Jury deliberating in Smith murder trial

Lester Smith

August 31, 2010 9:24:09 PM PDT
Closing arguments wrapped up Tuesday in the murder of a Wake Forest woman, and now the jury will determine her boyfriend's fate.

Sixty-three-year-old Leslie "Lester" Smith is accused if shooting 48-year-old Jaquelyn Larue Gore in his Wake Forest home July 26, 2009.

Tuesday morning's dramatic closing arguments including District Attorney Colon Willoughby showing the jury the gun used to kill Gore.

With the murder weapon in hand, Willoughby asked the jury to find Smith guilty of premeditated murder.

Smith admits shooting and killing his live-in girlfriend last year, but his attorney claims she had a problem with alcohol, violence and was suicidal. Attorney Karl Knudson urged to find Smith guilty of involuntary manslaughter, arguing Gore taunted Smith to shoot her.

The prosecution addressed that issue in closing arguments.

Willoughby asked the jury to recognize that Smith could have made another choice other than loading the gun and pointing it at Gore's chest. But Knudson maintains Smith was a man pushed to his limit after recently losing his job of 20 years while facing a possible cancer diagnosis.

The defense has maintained a "suicide by boyfriend" theory in which Gore taunted Smith. It's a theory the prosecution told the jury was bogus.

Following closing arguments, the case was turned over to the jury Tuesday.

During deliberations, jurors presented the judge with five requests.

They asked if they could fire the weapon, but they were only allowed to examine the pistol, one unchambered round, and a clip.

They also asked about the number of bullets that fit in the weapon, but they were told to rely on prior evidence presented.

The jury also wanted to see photos of the victim and guitar, written instructions of the law, and a transcript of 911 tape, which was given and the tape was played again in court.

Juror deliberations will continue Wednesday morning.

Smith is charged with first-degree murder, but the jury also will consider second-degree, involuntary manslaughter or not guilty.

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