Most critical evidence judge now weighs in murder case against f - KMOV.com

Most critical evidence judge now weighs in murder case against former officer

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Jason Stockley (KMOV) Jason Stockley (KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

The fate of a former St. Louis police officer now hangs in the balance as a judge considers all of the evidence in the murder case against Jason Stockley.

Both sides delivered their closing arguments Wednesday.

This is the first time an officer in St. Louis has faced a murder charge for an on-duty shooting in nearly two decades.

At the heart of the case is whether Jason Stockley intended to kill Anthony Smith or whether he was acting in lawful self-defense and that he was acting lawfully as an officer.

The incident began back in 2011 at the Church’s Chicken at Thekla and Riverview and ended with a crash and a shooting. Parts of the incident were captured on surveillance video, dash camera video and bystander cell phone video.

Stockley and his partner Brian Bianchi’s police cruiser pulled behind a car driven by Anthony Smith. Smith tried to get away, hitting the police car and then, as Stockley testified, Smith hit Stockley as well.

Stockley was carrying his own personal AK-pistol, which was against department policy.

However, Stockley only ever fired his department-issued Berretta at Smith, both at the Church’s Chicken lot and later, after the patrol car crashed into Smith’s on West Florissant.

At trial, a lot of the evidence revolved around something difficult to hear on the police dash camera video.

Stockley acknowledges he said something along the lines of "going to kill this mother expletive.”  Stockley testified that he doesn’t recall saying it or the context around the statement. The audio is, at times, garbled by radio transmissions.

In closing, prosecutor Robert Steele argued Stockley’s statement showed premeditation.

"There’s no self-defense, he knew when he killed him, he did exactly what he promised to do,” Steele said.

As for what Stockley said in the car, defense attorney Neil Bruntrager says it was just a heat-of-the- moment thing.

"It’s things said that arise from our human response and human emotions," Bruntrager said.

The defense argued Stockley acted in self-defense and within the limits of his authority as a police officer.

A lot of the testimony at trial also had to do with a silver revolver that was recovered from Smith’s car.

The state argued that Jason Stockley went back to his police car, turned his back to the camera and retrieved a gun from his duty bag.

“The gun is a plant. He planted it because he knew he wasn't justified in killing him,” Steele said during closing arguments.

A News 4 investigation revealed the revolver had been reported stolen out of St. Louis County in 2008. News 4 does not know where it's been in the meantime.

The state presented expert testimony that only Stockley's DNA was found on the revolver. The defense argued Stockley did touch it, in order to render the gun safe.

Stockley testified that he got a first aid item called Quick Clot out of the back of the patrol car before realizing rending that type of aid on Smith was “futile.”

The defense said the state's argument about a planted gun doesn't make sense because other officers were around.

"If he planted a gun in that car, than every one of those officers is complicit, but there's no evidence of that,” said Bruntrager.

Much of the evidence also focused on the bullet holes in a jacket. An expert testified that based on tests, one of the shots determined to have been fired at less than six inches away. The state has been arguing it was evidence of a “kill shot.”

The defense argued that Stockley was in close range and only shot in self-defense when he saw Smith reaching for something.

Families for both Smith and Stockley have sat through every day of the trial.

“Give this family some justice they’ve waited so long for,” Steele argued in court.

The evidence part of the trial is officially over. There's no jury in this case and Judge Timothy Wilson alone will render a verdict. Judge Wilson indicated he won't make a decision until at least August 18, giving both sides until that time to file post-trial pleadings summarizing the arguments of their case. 

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