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Trial Begins In Former Slippery Rock Football Player's Murder Case

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The trial has started for a man accused of shooting and killing a former college football player in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood.

Isiah Smith is accused of shooting 24-year-old Zach Sheridan on Forbes Avenue in August of 2013. Police said the two got into a fight near the Original Hot Dog Shop.

Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning saw the videotaped confession of Smith at the beginning of the non-jury trial.

Smith told police his original confrontation involved Sheridan's friend, not Sheridan himself, but escalated when the former football player intervened and got into an altercation with both him and the woman.

"He hit her like this, and then he took his hand and like started walking toward me like this, like he was about to pull something out," Sheridan says on the video. "And then I started shooting."

The female friend of Smith told him the male friends of Sheridan were hassling her in the wee hours of the morning when all were in Oakland at the same time.

Still photos show the makings of the confrontation. Smith claimed it escalated when the victim struck him.

But video taken from a University of Pittsburgh surveillance camera on Bouquet Street shows a muzzle flash, which investigators say is Smith firing at Sheridan while Sheridan is running away across Forbes Avenue.

The bullet entered Sheridan's back shoulder and exited his chest.

Detective J.R. Smith questioned him about that on the video.

"The victim you've referred to as Zach started running," the detective says. "And he was running away when you raised the gun and fired, you remember that?"

"The last thing I remember when I pull out the gun is him hitting her and going like this, and my mind was set like, 'Ah, he must have a gun,' and I started shooting," Smith replied.

"I wasn't meant to shoot him, but I was aiming in another direction cause I don't want to shoot no innocent bystanders, but there was nobody really out there. It was 4 in the morning. I didn't know he was hit the way he was running. So, I thought everything was all right," Smith said in the video.

The prosecution continues its case Wednesday.

Sheridan finished his four-year playing career ranked seventh on Slippery Rock University's career tackles chart. He was their leading tackler in each of his final three seasons.

Before playing for Slippery Rock, Sheridan played football for and graduated from Seton-La Salle High School.


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