Christopher Daron Smith, a Georgia pastor who had been charged with multiple sex offenses involving the abuse of a minor, was found dead from a single gunshot wound to the head on Wednesday (October 19). Smith died by suicide during a recess of the court proceedings in his trial.
Smith was arrested in 2019 following a five-hour standoff with police, wherein he barricaded himself inside a home with a firearm, threatening to shoot himself. He eventually surrendered peacefully.
Following his arrest, Smith, who served as pastor of Word of Truth Outreach Ministries in Columbus, GA, was charged with two counts of sodomy, four counts of child molestation, two misdemeanor charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, one count of felony possession of a firearm in commission of a crime, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of felony theft by receiving a firearm.
The latter charges involving a firearm stemmed from Smith’s standoff with police.
RELATED: Charges Against Virginia Pastor of Soliciting Sex With a Minor Dropped
Smith entered a plea of not guilty, and trial began earlier this week.
“I done came to support him. He had to go to court,” said Robert Jones, Smith’s friend. “And that’s all I know.”
Shevon Thomas II, who served as Smith’s defense attorney, told WTVM that the judge called a five-minute recess before the last witness was set to be heard. Thomas said that during that time, Smith died behind Thomas’ office.
Smith’s legal team had sought a mistrial based on a witness sequestration issue. When the judge denied the motion, Smith’s attorneys requested a short break so that Smith could walk to his car to retrieve his glasses.
RELATED: New Orleans Pastor Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Donors, Laundering Nearly $900K
After Smith did not return, his body was discovered. Following the discovery of Smith’s body, the judge dismissed the jury to end the trial.