Quentin L. Smith didn't react Nov. 6 when a Franklin County jury spared his life, recommending he be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for purposely killing Westerville Division of Police officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli.

Smith, 32, registered the same blank stare he had exhibited throughout his trial, an affect that the defense's forensic psychologist had called "flat as a stone" during mitigation testimony.

The jurors, who convicted Smith on Nov. 1 of two counts of aggravated murder for fatally shooting the officers as they entered his townhouse in response to a 911 hang-up call on Feb. 10, 2018, deliberated less than four hours before reaching the sentencing decision.

They were unable to unanimously agree on a death sentence, which left them with three other choices: life in prison without parole, life with no chance of parole for 25 years or life with no chance of parole for 30 years.

After court adjourned, the jurors left the courthouse without comment, as did the officers' families.

The sentence will be imposed Nov. 21 by Common Pleas Judge Richard A. Frye.

Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said the families of the officers "feel the judicial system worked because this man is going to die in prison." He expressed disappointment that the state didn't get the death sentence it sought, but he said he isn't confident that such a sentence would have been carried out in the next 15 years.

"So I guess to a certain extent, the life without parole sentence will not have us appealing a death sentence for 15 years and fighting endless and primarily meritless kinds of issues," O'Brien said.

In a statement issued the night of Nov. 6, Westerville police Chief Charles Chandler said, "The most important result of today is that the killer will not have the ability to harm anyone in society again. We will continue to move on with the healing process and support the Morelli and Joering families. We will also ensure the lives of our fallen brothers are celebrated and never forgotten."

Defense attorney Diane Menashe, who delivered a closing argument Nov. 6 in which she told jurors that her client deserved life without parole, said afterward that Smith "thanked us immeasurably" for the outcome, "which is a lot for him."

Last year, Menashe was part of the defense team in the death-penalty trial of Brian Golsby, who was convicted of the rape and murder of Ohio State University student Reagan Tokes. Golsby, too, was spared by a Franklin County jury and given life without parole.

"I didn't really want to take" Smith's case, Menashe said, "but I took it with the hopes that if those two cases got life, then maybe the death penalty and seeking the death penalty in Franklin County, maybe the juries would speak that this isn't where we should be spending our resources."

O'Brien said the sentencing decision "doesn't say anything about Franklin County juries in general ... It just says that one or more of this group of jurors didn't feel the state had proven beyond a reasonable doubt" that death was the appropriate sentence.

Deliberations began in the early afternoon Nov. 6 after the jurors heard about an hour and a half of closing arguments.

Menashe told them to not even consider sentencing options that would allow Smith a chance for parole after 25 or 30 years.

"He deserves to die in prison," she said. "But let him die on his own."

The mitigating factors presented by the defense included evidence that Smith had an emotionally abusive mother, lacked a father figure and suffered from a variety of mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and a major depressive disorder.

In a rebuttal closing, O'Brien called a death sentence "the only appropriate verdict that the evidence calls for."

He suggested Menashe was asking the jurors to do something other than the law requires: That they carefully weigh the aggravating circumstances of the case -- that Smith purposely killed two on-duty officers -- against the mitigating factors the defense presented.

"She seemed to be first asking you not to follow the law and then, secondly, asking you to ignore the law and appeal to one of 12 to take it in your own hands," he said.

The aggravating circumstances, he said, are "powerful," while he called the mitigating evidence "meager."

jfutty@dispatch.com

@johnfutty