What we know about man charged with murder of Westerville officers

Quentin Smith
What we know about man accused of killing 2 Westerville officers
First look at man who bought gun for Quentin Smith

COLUMBUS - A Columbus man already facing aggravated murder charges for the fatal shooting deaths of two Westerville police officers could face the death penalty if convicted, the Franklin County Prosecutor told 10 Investigates Monday.

Quentin L. Smith is still recovering after being shot by police but faces two aggravated murder charges for the fatal shooting deaths of Westerville Police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering.

As a convicted felon, Smith should not have owned a gun.

And that's led to additional charges against his friend for allegedly purchasing the handgun used in the officers' deaths.

Federal authorities on Monday charged Smith's friend, Gerald A. Lawson III, as acting as a "straw purchaser" by accepting cash from Smith and supplying him with a Glock handgun - the same one used in the murders of the two Westerville police officers.

Federal officials said that they relied on a series of tips, social media accounts and police work to trace the history of the gun, which was purchased legally at a firearms dealer in the Cleveland area.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman told 10 Investigates: "The purpose of this prosecution is to try to hold accountable the person who put the gun in the hands of the shooter."

Lawson appeared in federal court Monday afternoon for his initial appearance.

It was standing room only inside the courtroom at U.S. District Court in downtown Columbus. Dozens of uniformed officers from Westerville, Ohio State and Columbus Police departments made their presence known inside the courtroom. Lawson remains in federal custody and will be back in court Wednesday.

Authorities say an undisclosed witness told them that Lawson knew Smith was a felon, had visited him while he was in custody previously and had agreed to purchase him the gun.

The motivation for the officers' deaths is not known.

But Westerville police records show that Westerville police officers had been called to Smith's apartment off Cross Wind Drive several times in the past six months for domestic-related issues between Quentin Smith and his wife.

During one instance in November 29, 2017, Quentin's wife told police "she knows he is a convicted felon and is not supposed to have a gun, but he gave money to a friend of his, and the friend purchased it for him."

She alleged that she and Quentin had not been getting along and that when she threatened to leave him, he threatened to "shoot her, their daughter and himself."

She also said that Quentin forced himself on her but declined to file charges. Quentin denied the accusations, according to police records. Police checked Quentin Smith that night after he consented to a search, but no weapon was found.