ST. CLAIRSVILLE - William Satterfield murdered his neighbor, Kevin Smith, during a dispute about a dog running loose, a jury concluded Friday.
The jury returned a guilty verdict on the charge of murder with a firearm specification in the trial of Satterfield, a 25-year-old resident of Bethesda. He will be sentenced May 7 and faces 15 years to life with an additional three years possible due to the specification.
Before delivering its verdict, the jury visited the scene of the crime. Court then reconvened for closing arguments and deliberation by the jury.
Satterfield had been charged with one count of aggravated murder and one count of murder in the shooting death of 25-year-old Smith on Oct. 7.
The shooting occurred during a dispute in which Satterfield contended Smith's dog was running loose.
The four-day trial included forensic evidence and testimony from Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation officials and from Smith's girlfriend, Grace Wineman, who was present during the altercation. Jurors also heard 911 tapes and recordings of police interviews.
Belmont County Prosecutor Chris Berhalter summarized the state's case, saying Satterfield twice went to Smith's residence - the second time with a handgun.
He said Smith was kneeling on a couch with his head out the window when he was shot. Berhalter added the prosecution believed Satterfield shot once in the air as a warning and then shot Smith.
"Everything matches as to where Kevin was. It appears clear beyond any doubt that Kevin was in that window," Berhalter said.
Berhalter also noted that Smith had no gunpowder burns on his hand and that the first bullet fired was not found.
Sam Shamansky and Michael Shaheen, representing Satterfield, argued that Smith was shot outside the home during a struggle in which he struck the hand with which Satterfield was holding the gun, causing him to fire. Shamansky said Satterfield had claimed he took aim at Smith because he felt he was under attack, then the gun was fired accidentally.
In his closing argument, Shamansky said reasonable doubt still remained. He questioned Wineman's honesty and state of mind at the time of the crime.
"It's not credible. It stinks," he said.
He expressed doubt about the credentials of the investigators and the analysis of the scene.
"Where this young man was is important," he said.
Shamansky said while Satterfield was hot-headed, his actions did not meet the criteria of planning and purpose that come with a murder charge. He pointed out that Satterfield called 911 and voluntarily spoke with investigators.
"This is an accident, and that's all it is," he said.
Berhalter defended the state's version of events, stressing that Satterfield brought a loaded weapon to another man's residence and repeatedly took aim at the unarmed man.
"We have a loss of life here that did not have to occur. Is that an accident?" he said.
County Common Pleas Judge Jennifer L. Sargus presided.