TAZEWELL, Tenn. — The trial of David Wayne Rowland began in Claiborne County Criminal Court on Wednesday.
Rowland, 68, of Tazewell, is charged with reckless homicide in the death of Devin Smith. He was indicted by a Claiborne County Grand Jury in December 2011.
Smith, 15, was hunting with his grandfather on Nov. 26, 2011, when he was shot around 5 p.m. His grandfather, Leonard Duffield, also of Tazewell, was near his grandson at the time of the shooting, according to his testimony on Wednesday.
“The grandfather thought he had let his gun go off because of the proximity of his grandson,” said Sheriff David Ray at the time of the shooting. “Then the other guy came over and admitted he had fired his gun.”
Rowland, who was hunting, told investigators he saw brush move, so he lifted his gun and fired. That shot killed Smith.
Smith, a student at Middlesboro High School, would have turned 16 on Nov. 30, 2011. He was a member of the Middlesboro High School JROTC program, and planned to join the U.S. Marine Corps upon graduation. Smith was the son of Jane and T.J. Hurst of Middlesboro and Allen and Katherine Smith of New Tazewell.
Jury selection took the entire morning and the trial began at 1 p.m. with Judge Shayne Sexton giving the jury preliminary instructions. The state, represented by Assistant District Attorneys Jared Effler and Graham Wilson, began presenting their case Wednesday afternoon.
“Mr. Rowland fired into brush without knowing what he was shooting at,” said Effler during his introduction.
Rowland is represented by David Stanifer and Lindsey Cadle.
“This was an accident,” said Stanifer. “This was not a crime. Devin was somewhere he was not supposed to be — on someone else’s property and without his orange on.”
Several witnesses for the state testified, including Duffield; officers with the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department who were at the scene; the investigating officer, Det. Bobby Morelock; Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency Officer Rick Roberts and Dr. Christopher Lockmuller, Chief Deputy Medical Examiner for the Regional Forensic Center at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Several of Smith’s family members were visibly upset during the presentation of some of the evidence, which included photos of Smith at the scene as well as autopsy photos.
“We’re reliving the whole thing 16 months later,” said Smith’s grandmother, Glenda Duffield. “It’s just raw emotions. It’s made us feel so vulnerable again.”
Sexton told the jurors he expects both sides to conclude their presentations on Thursday.
Claiborne Progress | Civitas Media, LLC