UPDATE: Jury finds Smith guilty of involuntary manslaughter - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Jury finds Smith guilty of involuntary manslaughter

Antonio Smith Antonio Smith
Ira Harris Ira Harris

LEWISBURG (WVVA) - A jury has found Antonio Smith guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2012 death of Ira Harris.

Smith was charged with voluntary manslaughter for the death of 23-year-old Harris, but was found guilty of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

The defense had argued that Smith did not intend to kill Harris when he shoved him, resulting in Harris falling down a steep flight of stairs at an apartment above a pub in Lewisburg.

WVVA's Kristen Conner was in the courtroom and will have more details and reaction to verdict coming up later online and on WVVA News at Noon.


LEWISBURG (WVVA) - Jury deliberations are underway in the manslaughter trial of Antonio Smith.

Smith is charged with voluntary manslaughter for the death of 23-year-old Ira Harris in February 2012.

It's alleged that Smith and Harris -- a performer at the Greenbrier at the time of his death -- argued before Harris was pushed down a steep flight of stairs at an apartment above a Lewisburg pub.

The defense argued that Smith did not intend to kill Harris.

WVVA's Kristen Conner is in court this morning and will provide new details when they become available.


LEWISBURG (WVVA) – A trial is underway for the man accused of pushing a local performer down a flight of stairs to his death.

Antonio Dewayne Smith is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the death of Ira Harris of Chesapeake, Va.

Harris was employed as a singer at the Greenbrier when Smith allegedly pushed him down the stairs of an apartment above the Irish Pub in Lewisburg, after a heated altercation if February 2012.

In the case, the defense argued that voluntary manslaughter is not a valid charge, reiterating that Smith did not intend to kill Harris.

Public Defender DeWhitt Daniel moved that the judge give a direct verdict, because he said the state didn't actually prove the manslaughter was a conscious choice Smith made at the time. Judge Pomponio dismissed that motion and the trial continued.

When Smith took the stand, he told the court he had become angry and acted without thinking. He cried, admitting that he pushed Harris, but telling the court he did not mean to kill him.

But the prosecution alleges that pushing Harris above those particular stairs-- being so steep-- is an act of intent in itself, and that he attempted to cause Harris harm out of anger.

Prosecutor Patrick Via asked his lead witness, a friend of Harris's, if Harris got into arguments often. She replied, "Ira doesn't get upset. He doesn't get mad."

She said she saw a hand coming from behind her, which pushed Ira and caused him to fall. She had looked back and seen Smith there, and known he did it. In court, she identified Smith as the same man she saw at the top of the stairs.

Lt. Dove with the Lewisburg Police Department, the lead investigator in the case, came to the stand for the prosecution. He read records from the state Medical Examiner about Harris's injuries. The medical examiner had cited cranio-cerebral, or brain and head injuries, as a result of his fall down the stairs. Harris also suffered severe facial injuries, including fractures of facial bones and the skull, and major swelling.

Witnesses described seeing him hit his head on the stairs on the way down.

Closing arguments are set to begin at 9 a.m. Friday. The jury is expected to also deliberate that day.

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