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RACINE — A jury deliberated for less than two hours before bringing back a guilty verdict in the Aug. 12, 2022, shooting death of a local teen.

Zontell Junior, 16, was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide with use of a dangerous weapon in the shooting death of Quentin Smith, 16.

primary witness takes stand
Zontell Junior was on trial for the second time this year for the shooting death of Quentin Smith. (Pictured: Zontell Junior, left, and Quentin Smith, right) – Credit: Racine County Jail / TMJ4

Kemoney Woods, 17, the state’s primary witness, claimed Junior said he was going to shoot Smith for associating with the Dirty P’s, a southside gang. Woods and Junior associated with the NFL (Northside for Life), according to testimony.

Woods said he did not warn Smith of the danger because he did not believe Junior was being serious.

The verdict was handed down Thursday in Racine County Circuit Court.

Case history

Racine Police Department officers were dispatched to the 1900 block of Case Avenue on the report of a person with a gunshot wound to the head.

When they arrived, Smith was still alive, and the mother of Kemoney Woods was using a towel to apply pressure to the head wound. Smith was transferred to Ascension and was then care flighted to Froedtert, in Wauwatosa, but he died within two hours of being shot.

The shooting occurred outside the residence where Woods lived with his family.

The three young people were hanging out and smoking marijuana that evening. Smith and Woods came with firearms, including the gun Woods built from parts purchased over the internet, and the teens posed for photos with the guns.

Woods takes a call

While the three were hanging out, Woods took a call from the Racine County Juvenile Detention Center.

Woods claimed he walked to the end of the driveway while he was talking and suddenly heard a shot. He turned and saw Smith fall down on the grass with a gunshot wound to the head and Junior standing with the gun.

Junior relinquishes gun, flees

After the shooting, Junior walked up to Woods and handed him the gun, Woods said from the stand. Junior had Smith’s fanny pack across his shoulder, which Woods took.

The witness claimed Junior did not say anything before turning and running away.

Recorded reaction

Because calls from the juvenile detention center are recorded, investigators were able to capture the reaction Woods had to the shot, and the tape of the call was played for the jury multiple times.

Investigator Robert Rasmussen, the lead investigator on the case, testified from the stand that Woods was initially a person of interest in the shooting until he (Rasmussen) received the recording of the taped detention call on the evening of Aug. 12.

“The second I heard the detention call, I believed he was not the shooter,” Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen said Woods’s demeanor “absolutely changed” at the sound of the shot, and he sounded like he was panicking. Additionally, the shot did not sound like it came from the person holding the phone, the investigator added.

Credibility issues

The state’s case was challenged by the fact the primary witness took actions after the shooting that damaged his credibility, which included disposing of the murder weapon.

Woods said from the stand his concern was being charged with homicide because his gun was used in the shooting, so he hid the gun in the trash can outside of his residence before calling 911.

He told investigators that Junior left the scene with the gun, which was not true, and said he would help them recover the firearm.

Woods was arrested the night of the shooting for having Smith’s gun, which he was legally prohibited from having due to his criminal history. He tried to hide the fanny pack with the gun and the marijuana by hanging it outside his window, closing the window to secure the straps, but it was recovered by investigators during a search of the house.

Woods called his sister from juvenile detention and told her – using coded language – to dispose of the gun, which she did by throwing it into a Kenosha County pond. It was never recovered, despite an extensive effort that included dive teams.

Woods then spent months lying to investigators about the gun, insisting Junior brought the gun used in the homicide.

He finally acknowledged the truth of the matter; that is, the gun used in the homicide was his, after the Racine County DA’s Office assured him his sister would not be charged for her actions.

As part of the deal to secure Woods’s truthful testimony, the Racine County DA’s Office dismissed the gun charge he picked up the night of the homicide.

A sentencing hearing was scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sept. 25.

Court news

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