Prosecution presents its case in one day

Suzanne Williams
Posted 11/18/21

All the state’s witnesses were heard in court during the first day of testimony for the Zachary Smith murder trial.

Smith, 30, is accused of killing his neighbor and friend Matthew M. Morgan …

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Prosecution presents its case in one day

Posted

All the state’s witnesses were heard in court during the first day of testimony for the Zachary Smith murder trial.

Smith, 30, is accused of killing his neighbor and friend Matthew M. Morgan in a neighborhood dispute on West Arthur Street in Paris on the evening of June 8.

The state’s witnesses who observed the shooting all testified and agreed that the accused shooter, Smith, and the murder victim, Morgan, were friends who socialized together, enjoyed barbecues together and were often seen hanging out on a daily basis.

The first witness called by Edgar County State’s Attorney Mark Isaf was Avery Morgan, the widow of the victim. She was on the stand longer than the other witnesses as she explained how the events unfolded that led to her husband being killed in Smith’s small yard across the street from her family’s home.

She told the court she, her late husband and infant child returned to their home at approximately 7:30 p.m. June 8, and she admitted cussing and screaming at Zachary Smith’s young daughter for riding her bicycle in the road and almost getting hit.

The yelling prompted Zachary Smith to exit his trailer and in return yell back at Avery Morgan telling her to not yell at his daughter. As the incident escalated Avery Morgan’s husband responded and a war of words began. Avery Morgan went inside their home while her husband was getting the infant out of the car seat as the yelling and tempers continued to flare.

Avery Morgan said her husband crossed the street and went to the edge of Zachary Smith’s yard, put his hands up to the side and asked are you going to shoot me? Smith had previously entered his trailer home and retrieved a small handgun, came out of the home, walked down the deck stairs, raised the .38 caliber gun and shot his friend and neighbor in the chest.

Avery Morgan testified her husband fell to his knees and then fell to the ground face down following the single gunshot before she rolled him over and the shooter, Smith, began CPR and chest compressions. 

While Morgan’s testimony was lengthy, the most emotional testimony came from 11-year-old Maycee Tretter who witnessed what she said was a life changing event.  The young child with red hair in two French braids cried on the witness stand and asked for a moment as she recalled the events she witnessed.

Tretter explained Avery and Matthew Morgan were her daycare provider and she was regularly at their house and at the nearby Smith’s trailer. Tretter said she was the first out of the Morgan house shortly after the yelling began. She told the court she saw Matthew Morgan standing with his arms out to the side before she heard and saw the gun shot. Tretter said Matthew Morgan fell to his knees grabbing his chest.

Tretter used her cell phone to call 9-1-1. The recording of the emergency call was played in open court.

Madison Brewer and Christopher Brewer, who live at the Morgan residence, testified about what they recalled from that fatal evening. 

Another witness Madison Simpson was visiting at a neighboring home when she heard the gunshot. She told the court she saw Zachary Smith with the gun in his hand when she looked out the front door and window at her friend’s home across the street from the Smith trailer.

Testimony was also heard from former Paris Police Officer Scott Dunn, Paris Police Sergeant Andrew Hutson and Paris Police detective Jacob Robinson.

Dunn testified that upon arriving at the scene he asked where the shooter went and Smith, who was performing CPR on the victim, acknowledged shooting Morgan, and willingly was taken into custody.

Horizon Health paramedics Jessica Taylor Reed, Jessica Hopper, Skyler Schmidt and Brittney Davidson recounted their involvement. All four testified they discovered Matthew Morgan’s knife in a sheath in his pocket while attempting to save his life in the ambulance. The knife was turned over to detective Robinson who was in charge of the murder investigation. Robison displayed the knife and Zachary Smith’s gun in the courtroom.

Testimony for the defense began at 8:30 a.m. today, Nov. 18. Smith is being represented by public defender William McGrath.