The attorney for a man accused of a murder in Upper Arlington earlier this week said his client wasn’t at the scene of the June 11 incident and he’s confident charges against him will be dropped.
Joseph Landusky II said Upper Arlington Police Division Lt. Jon Wilhelmina and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien are working to “get the right guy” and exonerate Jeffery Lamar Smith.
Smith, 51, of south Columbus, was charged June 11 with aggravated murder in the stabbing death of Charles McCoy, a 31-year-old Columbus man. The incident took place earlier that day outside China Dynasty, 1689 W. Lane Ave., at the Shops on Lane.
Smith turned himself in to Columbus police June 12 and his bond later was set at $1.5 million.
But the case took a twist when he was released from the Franklin County jail at about 1:30 a.m. June 14 on his own recognizance.
Landusky said that’s because Smith was not at the scene of the murder and was mistakenly identified in a photo lineup by eyewitnesses to the fatal altercation.
“I don’t know that they’ve dismissed my client from murder, but I think they’ve developed another suspect,” Landusky said June 14. “(Smith) clearly, in my opinion, did not do this. He’s got not a scratch on his hands or face.”
An Upper Arlington police spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Landusky said Smith is not the boyfriend of a China Dynasty employee who had an argument with McCoy before he was killed, according to police reports.
“He’s never been there,” Landusky said. “My guy is neither her boyfriend nor someone who worked there.”
Landusky said Upper Arlington officers have shown professionalism in reopening their investigation.
“Everybody in every walk of life makes mistakes,” he said. “It’s good to see a law-enforcement agency that isn’t so prideful that they won’t do the right thing.
“Their goal, and Ron O’Brien’s goal, is to get the right guy and get to the truth, and I really respect that.”
Upper Arlington police officer Bryan McKean said officers “are working diligently to get answers” as they continue the investigation into the June 11 stabbing death of a man behind the China Dynasty restaurant on West Lane Avenue.
Jeffery Lamar Smith, 51, the Columbus man charged in the murder of 31-year-old Charles McCoy, was released on his own recognizance June 13 after his attorney, Joseph R. Landusky II, told Franklin County Municipal Court there is video that shows Smith was elsewhere at the time McCoy was killed.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien requested that Smith be released from custody on a bond while further investigation is done.
Charges currently remain pending and were not dismissed but he was released from jail, O’Brien said.
A call to Landusky was not returned June 14.
The Upper Arlington Police Division declined a public-records request from ThisWeek Upper Arlington News to turn over the referenced footage and wouldn't acknowledge if any such video exists.
McKean said the division would be required only to turn over video shot from police cruiser cameras or body cameras, but Upper Arlington officers don't have body cameras and there was no cruiser camera footage of the incident that led to McCoy's stabbing.
"There's no video for us to release at this time," he said.
As for potential other suspects in the case, McKean said, "We don't have any comment as this is an ongoing investigation. We're not going to say anything more than what Prosecutor O'Brien is saying."