Christian A Smith has been charged with first degree murder. (Salem County Correctional Facility)
A man has been charged with first-degree murder after he shot his stepfather dead for allowing a gay guest to enter their home.
Christian Smith, 23, shot Dennis McKenzie, 43, three times at a gathering in Woolwich Township in Gloucester County, New Jersey. The shooting occurred at a celebration in his mother and stepfather’s home.
One of Smith’s relatives brought a gay friend to the celebration, which sent Smith into a tailspin, according to NJ.com. He objected to the presence of a gay person in the family home, saying it was a “house of God”, assistant prosecutor Dana Anton said.
Smith went on to use a homophobic slur when referring to the gay guest, prosecutors said, which resulted in an altercation between him and his stepfather.
“The stepfather took a swing at Mr Smith and, I believe, maybe superficially hit him,” Anton told a New Jersey courtroom. Smith was not injured in the scuffle, but he proceeded to take out a Glock 19 gun from his waistband and shot McKenzie three times.
McKenzie was shot in the head and body. He died at the scene, prosecutors said.
Christian Smith deemed ‘a danger to the community’ by judge
“This argument that proceeded the murder, it started over an act of bias and an act of bias intimidation where he is using a slur about somebody’s sexual orientation,” assistant prosecutor Anton said, according to NJ.com.
Smith’s public defender Katherine Constantine Blinn told the court that the shooting was accidental, but this was refuted by Anton. Blinn said the shooting had not been planned and noted that he disassembled the gun after fatally injuring his stepfather.
“What that suggests to me, judge, is that this was accidental and that in order to prevent any further issues Mr Smith disassembled the gun until police arrived,” Blinn said.
However, Anton argued that you can’t “accidentally shoot somebody three times”. She noted that Smith had to reach across his mother, who had tried to intervene in the argument, to shoot McKenzie.
Judge Mary Beth Kramer found that there was probable cause for the murder charge and for a second degree charge of possession of a weapon for unlawful reasons.
However, a third charge for unlawful possession of a firearm was not brought forward as it was established that Smith had legally bought the gun in Pennsylvania.
Judge Kramer denied Blinn’s request that Smith be released on bail while he awaits trial. She described him as “a danger to the community”.