A 51-year-old Georgia pastor on trial for several charges, including the rape of a minor, killed himself during a court recess.
The deceased, identified as Christopher Daron Smith, former pastor of Word of Truth Outreach Ministries in Columbus, took his own life during a five-minute recess given by the judge during the trial before the last witness was to be heard Wednesday, WTVM reported, citing Smith’s defense attorney, Shevon Thomas II.
Smith, who killed himself behind Thomas’ office at a government center courtroom, was arrested in 2019 on charges of child molestation after a police standoff, wherein he barricaded himself inside a home with a firearm and threatened to shoot himself, Church Leaders said, adding he eventually surrendered peacefully.
“Outside of funerals, I’ve never seen a dead body before. My first thought was shock. I was yelling at him to get up, telling him to get up. My mind was racing a million miles a minute,” Thomas was quoted as saying.
The attorney added that he would continue to pray. “This is only the second trial that I have had, and for it to end this way, I just couldn’t see it coming.”
Smith, who faced life in prison if convicted, was on trial in Superior Court Judge Maureen Gottfried’s courtroom on two counts of aggravated child molestation, child molestation, sodomy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, The Ledger-Enquirer reported.
Smith’s attorney had sought a mistrial based on a witness sequestration issue, but the judge denied the motion. That’s when he requested a short break so that Smith could walk to his car to retrieve his glasses.
But he never returned. After Thomas found his body, Gottfried dismissed the jury to end the trial.