A Georgia pastor who was on trial for charges of rape of a minor has committed suicide.
Christopher Daron Smith, the former pastor of Word of Truth Outreach Ministries in Columbus, killed himself during a five-minute court recess during his trial last week.
According to The Christian Post, the last witness in the case was set to testify in the trial after the recess.
Smith was arrested and charged with child molestation in 2019. He was apprehended after a police standoff where he barricaded himself inside a house with a gun and told police he was going to shoot himself. The standoff lasted several hours until Smith went into police custody peacefully and without incident.
Last week, Smith was on trial for two counts of aggravated child molestation, child molestation, sodomy, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He died on Wednesday from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
“I am just going to continue to pray,” Smith’s lawyer, Shevon Thomas, told WTVM. “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’s attorney had just asked for a mistrial based on a witness issue. The judge denied the request, and Smith’s attorneys then asked for a break, so their client could walk to his car, parked off the east side of Second Avenue, to get his glasses.
Smith did not return, so Shevon Thomas II went looking for him, found the body and reported the death, according to reports.
“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.
Thomas had entered a plea of not guilty.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Douglas Sacha
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.