RACINE — A teen charged with homicide will be tried for the second time this year after the first trial ended in a hung jury.
Zontell Junior, 16, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the Aug. 12, 2022, shooting death of Quentin Smith, 16, who was a student at Park High School.
The first trial ended with a hung jury on April 21.
The jury was seated in Racine County Circuit Court on Tuesday.
The Racine Police Department was dispatched to 1900 Case Ave. on the report of a person with a gunshot wound to the head.
Officer Phillip Davis was the first officer to arrive on the scene. Footage from his body cam was played for the jury.
Smith was still alive and a person was putting pressure on his wound with a towel at the time Davis arrived.
Smith was taken first to Ascension Hospital and then care flighted to Froedtert Hospital, in Wauwatosa, but he died a short time later.
Just hanging out
At the time of his death, Smith was hanging out with Junior and another teen, Kemoney Woods, 17.
Woods and Smith had been friends for many years. The three were at the Woods residence where they intended to hang out and smoke marijuana.
There were at least two guns and the teens took pictures of themselves posing with the guns.
At some point in the evening, while the three were hanging out, Smith was shot in the head.
After the shooting, Junior fled the area and went home.
Woods was the first person to talk to investigators, and he told them Junior was the shooter. He alleged Junior talked about shooting Smith because he associated with the Dirty P’s, a southside gang. Junior is reportedly associated with the northside gang NFL (Northside for Life).
The state’s primary evidence is a phone call received by Woods shortly before the shooting. Because the call was made from the juvenile detention center, it was recorded.
The Racine County DA’s Office is arguing Woods sounds shocked after the shot was heard – indicating he was not expecting it.
Defense during trial points to teen’s actions following shooting
Laura Walker, who represents the defendant in the trial, told the jury to pay attention to what Woods does after his friend was shot:
- He hid the gun used in the shooting in the trash can outside of his house.
- He took Smith’s fanny pack, which had marijuana and a handgun, upstairs to his room where he attempted to hide it by hanging it out of the window, with the window closed to secure the straps. Investigators found it during the initial search.
- Woods told the police the gun in the fanny pack was not the gun used in the homicide. He told investigators that Junior ran away with the gun, but he said he would cooperate and help them find the murder weapon.
- Instead, he called a relative from juvenile detention and arranged to have the gun in the trash can retrieved and disposed of. Investigators did not find the gun in the trash can during the initial search of the premises and it was never found.
During the trial, Walker told the jury the statements by the state’s primary witness consisted of “lie after lie after lie.”
“You can’t convict on the word on Kemoney (Woods),” she said.
She told the jury investigators got tunnel vision and continued to believe Woods – even after he lied to them repeatedly.
Walker pointed out investigators did not know Woods personally and do not know how he would react to stress. They hear him on the recording and believe he is reacting to the gunshot.
“That is simply not enough,” Walker said.
The trial will continue Wednesday and Woods is expected to testify.
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