Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Prosecutors: Killing intentional

Smith's lawyers claim he shot in self-defense

By Marie McCain mmccain@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Consumed by feelings of rage, revenge and retaliation, Gary Smith took a 9 mm handgun in the early hours of May 14, 2001 and hunted down his victims, prosecutors told a Hamilton County jury Monday.

        Upset that Cincinnati police didn't believe his claims that he'd been robbed, the Over-the-Rhine man told the first person he shot that he'd also shoot others, prosecutors said.

        “I don't want there to be no witnesses,” they said Mr. Smith told one of his victims.

        Mr. Smith, 52, is accused of intentionally shooting to death 29-year-old Jimmie Gordon. He also is charged with trying to kill three others: Jeff “Dingo” King, 26; Andre Ridley, 36; and Steve Franklin, 22. If convicted, he could receive the death penalty.

        “The defendant intentionally choose to take a life.

        “He was not reasonable or rational,” Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor David Prem said during his opening statement Monday before Common Pleas Judge Robert Kraft

        Attorneys for Mr. Smith contend their client in no way intended to exact “vigilante justice.” Instead, he was bent on his own personal safety. Police didn't believe he'd been robbed and had let the people he accused know he'd reported them.

        They in turn had threatened to hurt him. He had to do something to protect himself, Mr. Smith's attorneys said.

        Mr. Smith, who is acting as his own co-counsel, told jurors he'd been harassed and threatened since he'd moved to the 400 block of 12th Street about three years earlier. He said prosecutors were distorting the facts and he denied telling a police officer that if the police weren't going to arrest anyone then he'd handle it himself.

        He said he carried a gun to guarantee himself “safe passage” to his car, and that he'd called the police at least 50 times, but had been labeled “a nuisance.”

        “If all I had to do was go and get a gun and shoot them, why would I call police?” Mr. Smith asked jurors Monday.

        Prosecutors say Mr. Smith reported a robbery May 13, 2001. But when police arrived he appeared “somewhat intoxicated” and told a story that continually changed. He pointed out three men on the street and told officers they were the ones who'd held a gun to his head and taken money from him.

        But those men were not arrested. Police officers said they had alibis and Mr. Smith's story seemed made up.

        Within 24 hours, Mr. Smith allegedly shot four men, contending they were the ones who had robbed him. A fugitive for two days, Mr. Smith later surrendered to radio talk show host Pat Barry.


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