Exclusive: Local attorney speaks after shooting client in self-defense

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A local attorney is cleared in a deadly shooting.

It was last month when criminal defense lawyer Jay Silvernail pulled the trigger while under attack by a former client.

That client, David Scott Smith, was out on parole after spending more than 20 years in prison for robbery.

The Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office says Silvernail clearly acted in self-defense.

Silvernail told NewsChannel 4 he never carried a gun until two weeks before the deadly shooting happened.

He says he tried to help David Smith as much as he could, but didn’t know how violent he could be.

In fact, the district attorney tells us Smith was a murder suspect in Oklahoma County at the time, and Silvernail never knew.

Instead, Jay Silvernail thought he knew his client well.

He helped David Scott Smith with some court costs when Smith got out of prison.

“I still believe that regardless of the charges, or their situation, their history, there’s a soul in that body, and they need as much help as I can give them,” Silvernail said.

Silvernail bought Smith a truck, helped him get a job, and even let Smith into his home.

Then, Silvernail says he found out Smith was doing meth, and had a more violent history in prison than he knew.

“He had told me about killing a man with two fingers; he was Aryan Brotherhood, lieutenant on the yard. He’d been violent toward my secretary,” Silvernail said.

Silvernail says Smith threatened his life too.

“I slept with my pistol, slept with my shotgun, looked over my shoulder every time I showed up at the house,” Silvernail said.

The day of the shooting, Smith went to Silvernail’s house and said he needed to pick up some clothes.

“He was immediately angry and demanding,” Silvernail said.

Silvernail went to his car to get a bag of clothes when he says Smith attacked him.

“When I got out of the car with the duffle bag, I threw it to his face to get a little space, and my pistol just happened to be in the car right there between the seats,” Silvernail said.

It was a split decision, he says, when he shot Smith.

“I can’t remember being any more terrified in my whole life,” Silvernail said.

A month later, Silvernail is still struggling with what happened right in front of his home.

“I still see people I haven’t seen since then. It seems strange to me. They pat me on the back and say they’re proud of what I did. I don’t understand that, I just regret it,” Silvernail said.

He tells us he’s considered practicing in a different area of law, but criminal defense is where his heart is.

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