The defense rested Friday afternoon after calling eight witnesses, including Schmitt, who took the stand a day earlier in his own defense. The U.S. Army veteran told the jury he knew Jahangard was standing there, but that he underestimated the turning radius of his Mercedes as he tried pulling into the driveway.
“I see it in my head every day,” he told the Fulton County jury. “It’s a mistake that I have struggled with for three years.”
Footage of the fatal wreck was captured on two cameras: one clip from the dashboard of a passing work truck and another from a home’s security camera across the street. The video appeared to show Schmitt quickly turn left across traffic on River Valley Road, hitting Jahangard as he stood next to three trash bins at the edge of the driveway.
The two had exchanged words moments earlier when Schmitt doubled back and questioned Jahangard from his car, he said.
“I was shocked. He was very dismissive,” Schmitt said on the stand. “We were across two lanes of traffic and he yelled across the road, “get the (expletive) out of here. It took me back. I was really surprised.”
Prosecutors focused on inconsistent statements Schmitt gave bystanders and police at the scene, telling them Jahangard threw one of the trashcans into the path of his car, forcing him to swerve to avoid it. Surveillance footage of the incident tells a different story, they said.
“They were accurate as to my perception at the time,” Schmitt said of the statements he made to investigators that evening. “Looking back I realize there were some errors that I made.”
He said he was simply trying to get out the busy road, and never meant to hit Jahangard or even scare him with his vehicle. The defense called several witnesses last week who said the attorney is level-headed and they’ve never known him to be violent.
Schmitt is charged with murder, two counts of felony murder and two counts of aggravated assault. But counsel for Schmitt said the jury can also consider lesser charges, including reckless driving and homicide by vehicle.
Nearly two dozen of Jahangard’s friends and family members have sat through the trial, including his two adult daughters, who cried in the front row during some of last week’s graphic testimony. On the other side of the courtroom, Schmitt’s wife, parents and brother have watched on intently.
Attorneys are expected to deliver their closing arguments about 10:30 a.m. before the case goes to the jury.