Highland man found guilty of murder in shooting death of girlfriend

2013-02-14T20:15:00Z 2013-02-15T13:13:07Z Highland man found guilty of murder in shooting death of girlfriendSusan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com
February 14, 2013 8:15 pm  • 

HIGHLAND | A Lake County jury deliberated less than three hours Thursday before returning a guilty verdict against a 27-year-old Highland man in the slaying of his girlfriend last year.

Douglas Smith was found guilty of murder in the death of Jacqueline Williams, 28, on Jan. 14, 2012, in their Highland duplex.

In closing their case Thursday against Smith, prosecutors argued Smith was an angry man when he shot Williams in the eye after the couple returned home from a night of drinking at a local bar.

"They argued a lot. It was nothing new," prosecuting attorney Sabrina Haney told jurors.

"He had enough," Haney said.

Haney argued Williams' head wound showed she was struck in the left eye with the bullet traveling from front to back with such force it went through the floor under her head.

"This was not an accident. That we know," she said.

Jurors had had the option of choosing reckless homicide, denoting the shooting was accidental, or voluntary manslaughter, indicating "sudden heat," as their verdict.

Defense attorney William Padula, of Munster, had argued against a murder verdict, citing the couple's chronic excessive drinking, to which witnesses for both the prosecution and the defense had testified.

"This was a deeply troubled, dysfunctional relationship," Padula said.

Williams was shot by a gun that had never been fired before by either Smith or Williams, he said.

According to Smith's testimony, the couple had been arguing for some time when Williams encountered him with the gun, and the struggle ensued during which she was shot.

Padula argued Smith then fled out of panic and fear to Florida, from where he was extradited to face charges.

Sentencing was set for March 22.

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