JACKSONVILLE, ONSLOW COUNTY - Authorities have released an official cause of death for a former Florida deputy who was allegedly shot by a Camp Lejeune Marine.
According to the death certificate from the Medical Examiner's Office, 39-year-old Dale Smith (right) died from a gunshot wound on the left side of his face. The suspect in Smith's death is 24-year-old Cpl. Benjamin Ryan Marisic (left), who has been charged with an open count of murder.
Smith, a former patrol deputy from Crestview, FL, was shot and killed on Aug. 9 inside Marisic's home at 713 Savannah Drive in Jacksonville, police said.
"It's not what it necessarily appears to be," said Richard McNeil, the suspect's lawyer. "It's not a cold-blooded shooting. It's just kind of a surprising- kind of like a perfect storm."
The owner of the Hideaway Lounge in Jacksonville said Marisic and Smith were both seen at the bar playing pool and enjoying some drinks. According to the bar owner, Marisic and Smith then left in a cab and eventually ended up at Marisic's home.
"We're looking at a number of angles regarding the extent of their meeting, their acquaintance, McNeil said. "They had never met before. We're also looking at potential self-defense. We're also looking at potential issues of intoxication."
McNeil said he is aware of a neighbor's account that Marisic and Smith were arguing outside the house.
"We've heard information indicating that prior to the shooting, my client had repeatedly told the decedent to leave the premises," McNeil said.
Officials have released the 911 call Marisic made after he allegedly shot and killed Smith.
CALLER: "I saw someone break in and I f***ing shot him."
911 OPERATOR: "Do you know who it was that broke into your residence?"
CALLER: "I do not ma'am. Can you send somebody over?"
911 OPERATOR: "Okay, we have them in route. Can you tell me exactly where he is?"
CALLER: "713 Savannah Drive. That's my address."
911 OPERATOR: "No, where is the body that you shot?"
CALLER: "In my house."
911 OPERATOR: "Sir, in the front door? In the window? In the living room? Kitchen?"
CALLER: "He's in my hallway, ma'am. I'm sorry."
911 OPERATOR: "Do you still have the weapon on you?"
CALLER: "I have a weapon, I don't even- yes."
911 OPERATOR: "Okay, he is in the hallway? Where did you shoot him?"
CALLER: "He's down ma'am. I mean..."
911 OPERATOR: "Where is the weapon at?"
CALLER: "It is in my room, ma'am. I mean, it's just it's so confusing, I don't know. It's all a f***ing blur."
Officers said when they arrived at Marisic's home at about 3:47 a.m. on Aug. 9, they found Smith dead from one gunshot wound. Marisic was arrested before noon and was being jailed under no bond.
Smith was a defense contractor at Camp Lejeune and his job was to detonate bombs for training, according to a family member. Smith was under a six-month contract and had only been in Jacksonville for two weeks before his death.
Smith had previously worked as a patrol deputy for the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office in northwestern Florida from March 2006 to September 2009. Before that, he worked for the Bay County Sheriff's Office from 2001 to 2006.
There was no word on a motive for the deadly shooting. But Smith's family said officials have told them that alcohol was somehow involved. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is helping with the case.
Smith's funeral took place Wednesday in Tennessee. He would have celebrated his 40th birthday on Friday, according to family.
"The tragedy is that two people's lives plus their families' lives have been impacted by this event," said Jacksonville Police Chief Mike Yaniero.
Neighbor Kelsey Johnson said she was shocked that the shooting happened so close to home.
"You would never think it would happen to you," Johnson said. "This is such a quiet neighborhood. I mean, we love living here."
Johnson said she was up at 3 a.m. Friday feeding her son. She heard people next door talking outside, but didn't think anything of it. Johnson said Marisic seemed like a nice neighbor.
"He's a really nice guy," Johnson said. "He kept to himself too, but I don't know the gist of anything that happened."
Marisic was being jailed under no bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 29.