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August 2009 | Dayton Courts: Legal and crime news
 

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August 2009

Cold case: man indicted in 1993 homicide

DAYTON — A Montgomery County grand jury indicted a Dayton man Friday, Aug. 28, on a single count of murder for the 1993 shooting death of another man.

Damon Crawford, 38, also known as “Cocky,” was arrested at 12:15 p.m. Friday and booked into the Montgomery County Jail. He is charged with the Oct. 31, 1993 death of Ebony “Punkin” Fisher.

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Damon Crawford

Fisher, 20, had been released from prison three weeks before his death. He had been serving a sentence for a carrying a concealed weapon conviction, his mother told the Dayton Daily News in 1993.

Fisher, who lived at 5512 Autumn Hills Drive, Apt. 7, was shot at 2:58 a.m. in the parking lot of Spunky’s, a Jefferson Twp. nightclub at 4765 Germantown Pike. He was shot in the back of the head while he was attempting to use a car telephone, police said.

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Missing woman: Defendant convicted of all charges

DAYTON — Though his girlfriend’s body has never been found, Harold Barker was convicted Friday, Aug. 28, of murder, felonious assault and tampering with evidence.

The jury deliberated for about two hours before convicting Barker, 55, of all indicted charges. He will be sentenced Sept 9 by Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Barbara P. Gorman.

Shelley Sue Turner has been missing since Sept. 30, 2006. She was 38 at the time, and was last seen leaving her Morse Avenue home with Barker on that evening.

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Shelly Sue Turner
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Harold Barker

Prosecutors declined comment following the reading of the verdict. Assistant county public defender Mike Pentecost said that Barker still maintains his innocence.

The trial started Monday. During closing arguments on Friday morning, assistant county prosecutor Janna Huber said that Barker played the part of the grieving fiance, wearing a mask when he spoke with his girlfriend’s family and with police.

“But the burden of that mask was very heavy,” Janna Huber said during her closing argument. “That’s when he revealed who he really was. He was Shelly’s killer.”

During her closing argument, Huber focused on the testimony of Tonya Ruby and Victor Turner, who is not related to Shelly. Both testified that Barker told them that he killed his girlfriend.

Both have been convicted of felonies in the past, Ruby for drug possession and Victor Turner for murder. But both were truthful, and they were the longtime friends that Barker confided in, Huber said.

“He didn’t confess to the church choir,” Huber said. “He confessed to them.”

Ruby and Victor Turner do not know each other, and neither knew Shelly Sue Turner, Huber said.

Huber also said Barker’s story was not credible. Barker, who did not testify during his trial, told police that he and his girlfriend had been at Shag’s Tavern, 1926 S. Smithville Road. When they were outside the bar, a silver car pulled up and the driver called out to Shelly Sue Turner. She walked up to the car and talked the the driver, whom she addressed as “Bill.”

When Barker asked if she was leaving with him, she broke off their engagement, handed him her ring, then got into the car and “Bill” drove off, according to Barker’s statements to police.

That same night, Barker’s pickup truck was damaged from the inside. The rear-view mirror was broken and his windshield was shattered. Barker told police that he was angry after his girlfriend left him, and he punched the windshield.

Huber said that defied logic, as much of the damage to the windshield was in the top corner on the passenger’s side. She noted that Shelly Sue Turner’s blood was not found in the truck, but Barker’s was, also on the passenger side.

Huber also said that, though Barker told his girlfriend’s relatives that he had been looking for her in the days after her disappearance, he was actually hanging out with Ruby. The two had sex one night during the first week of October, and they socialized for seven to 10 days, Ruby testified.

“He kept that mask on for days and days and days,” Huber said. “Don’t reward the defendant for disposing of her body so well and putting on that mask.”

During his closing argument, Pentecost took aim at the testimony of Ruby and Victor Turner. Neither were credible, Pentecost said, and their stories were inconsistent.

Ruby testified that, after they had been hanging out for a few days, Barker told her that he got angry at Shelly Sue Turner and went to slap her, but accidentally hit her in the throat. After he struck her, she choked on her blood.

Victor Turner testified Barker told him that he chopped up his girlfriend, put her in a barrel and buried it where no one would find it.

Pentecost said that Barker, who had been drinking and using drugs during these encounters, was merely engaging in “drunk talk.”

Pentecost also said there was no physical evidence of Shelly Sue Turner inside Barker’s truck. A blond hair was found in the passenger side visor, but investigators never identified from whom it came, he said.

Without the testimony of Ruby and Victor Turner, all the prosecutors have is a missing woman and a broken windshield, and that’s not enough to convict for murder, Pentecost said.

“It’s speculation,” Pentecost said. “The proof is not there, and if the proof is not there, there’s reasonable doubt.”

Assistant county prosecutor Sandra Hobson, giving the state’s final closing argument, disagreed that Victor Turner and Ruby’s stories were inconsistent. One dealt with the manner of death and the other with the disposal of the body, Hobson said.

“Tonya has no reason to lie,” Hobson said. “Victor has no reason to lie.”

Hobson also said that Barker told Ruby that he had spent time with Shelly Sue Turner’s mother to establish an alibi. At the time he told her this, she did not believe his story and did not know that a woman named Shelly was missing, she said.

As for the windshield, it had four different points of impact, Hobson said. She also said that a bartender at Shag’s and a patron who knew Barker and Shelly Sue Turner both testified that the two were not the bar that night.

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Missing woman: The case goes to the jury

DAYTON —¬†Harold Barker played the part of the grieving fiance, wearing a mask when he spoke with his girlfriend’s family and with police, an assistant Montgomery County prosecutor said Friday, Aug. 28.

“But the burden of that mask was very heavy,” Janna Huber said during her closing argument. “That’s when he revealed who he really was. He was Shelly’s killer.”

Shelley Sue Turner has been missing since Sept. 30, 2006. She was 38 at the time, and was last seen leaving her Morse Avenue home with Barker on that evening. Barker, 55, is on trial this week on charges of murder, felonious assault and tampering with evidence.

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Shelly Sue Turner
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Harold Barker

Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara P. Gorman charged the jury with the case at 11:10 a.m. Friday.

During her closing argument, Huber focused on the testimony of Tonya Ruby and Victor Turner, who is not related to Shelly. Both testified that Barker told them that he killed his girlfriend.

Both have been convicted of felonies in the past, Ruby for drug possession and Victor Turner for murder. But both were truthful, and they were the longtime friends that Barker confided in, Huber said.

“He didn’t confess to the church choir,” Huber said. “He confessed to them.”

Ruby and Victor Turner do not know each other, and neither knew Shelly Sue Turner, Huber said.

Huber also said Barker’s story was not credible. Barker, who did not testify during his trial, told police that he and his girlfriend had been at Shag’s Tavern, 1926 S. Smithville Road. When they were outside the bar, a silver car pulled up and the driver called out to Shelly Sue Turner. She walked up to the car and talked the the driver, whom she addressed as “Bill.”

When Barker asked if she was leaving with him, she broke off their engagement, handed him her ring, then got into the car and “Bill” drove off, according to Barker’s statements to police.

That same night, Barker’s pickup truck was damaged from the inside. The rear-view mirror was broken and his windshield was shattered. Barker told police that he was angry after his girlfriend left him, and he punched the windshield.

Huber said that defied logic, as much of the damage to the windshield was in the top corner on the passenger’s side. She noted that Shelly Sue Turner’s blood was not found in the truck, but Barker’s was, also on the passenger side.

Huber also said that, though Barker told his girlfriend’s relatives that he had been looking for her in the days after her disappearance, he was actually hanging out with Ruby. The two had sex one night during the first week of October, and they socialized for seven to 10 days, Ruby testified.

“He kept that mask on for days and days and days,” Huber said. “Don’t reward the defendant for disposing of her body so well and putting on that mask.”

Assistant county public defender Mike Pentecost took aim at the testimony of Ruby and Victor Turner. Neither were credible, Pentecost said, and their stories were inconsistent.

Ruby testified that, after they had been hanging out for a few days, Barker told her that he got angry at Shelly Sue Turner and went to slap her, but accidentally hit her in the throat. After he struck her, she choked on her blood.

Victor Turner testified Barker told him that he chopped up his girlfriend, put her in a barrel and buried it where no one would find it.

Pentecost said that Barker, who had been drinking and using drugs during these encounters, was merely engaging in “drunk talk.”

Pentecost also said there was no physical evidence of Shelly Sue Turner inside Barker’s truck. A blond hair was found in the passenger side visor, but investigators never identified from whom it came, he said.

Without the testimony of Ruby and Victor Turner, all the prosecutors have is a missing woman and a broken windshield, and that’s not enough to convict for murder, Pentecost said.

“It’s speculation,” Pentecost said. “The proof is not there, and if the proof is not there, there’s reasonable doubt.”

Assistant county prosecutor Sandra Hobson, giving the state’s final closing argument, disagreed that Victor Turner and Ruby’s stories were inconsistent. One dealt with the manner of death and the other with the disposal of the body, Hobson said.

“Tonya has no reason to lie,” Hobson said. “Victor has no reason to lie.”

Hobson also said that Barker told Ruby that he had spent time with Shelly Sue Turner’s mother to establish an alibi. At the time he told her this, she did not believe his story and did not know that a woman named Shelly was missing, she said.

As for the windshield, it had four different points of impact, Hobson said. She also said that a bartender at Shag’s and a patron who knew Barker and Shelly Sue Turner both testified that the two were not the bar that night.

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Missing woman: Two testify that Barker confessed to killing girlfriend

DAYTON — Days after Shelly Sue Turner disappeared, Harold Barker confessed to an old friend that he wanted heroin so that he could commit suicide, the friend testified Thursday, Aug. 27.

“He said ‘I want to commit suicide because I killed my girlfriend,” Victor Turner said. He is no relation to Shelly Sue Turner.

Turner was one of two people who testified Thursday that Barker admitted killing his girlfriend. The two witnesses do not know each other.

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Shelly Sue Turner
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Harold Barker

Prosecutors rested after Victor Turner’s testimony. Defense attorneys, who maintain there is no evidence that Barker had any role in his girlfriend’s disappearance, did not present any witnesses. Closing arguments will start Friday morning.

Barker, 55, is on trial this week on charges of murder, felonious assault and tampering with evidence. All charges deal with Shelly Sue Turner’s disappearance. The trial, before Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara P. Gorman, started Monday.

Shelley Sue Turner vanished Sept. 30, 2006. She was last seen with Barker.

Victor Turner, who is on parole for a 1980 murder conviction, said he has known Barker since about 1985. The two friends ran into each other in downtown Dayton one day in early October 2006.

Later that day, while at Belmont Billiards, 820 Watervliet Ave., Barker made his statement about wanting to die. Barker also said he cut up his girlfriend’s body, Victor Turner said.

Victor Turner said he did not believe Barker at that time.

About two weeks later, Victor Turner said, he saw Barker outside the Fricker’s, 1818 Woodman Drive. Barker told him that he chopped up his girlfriend, put her in a barrell and buried it where no one would find it, Victor Turner said.

A mutual acquaintance then got angry when he heard Barker talking about it and confronted Victor Turner, who then left the area to avoid a fight, Victor Turner said.

Victor Turner also said that he saw Barker in downtown Dayton in 2008. Victor Turner told Barker that a police detective had tried to get information about Barker’s involvement in his girlfriend’s disappearance, but Victor Turner falsely told Barker that he hadn’t said anything to the detective.

At this point in Turner’s testimony, Barker angrily yelled “You know you got to answer to God for all this,” before a sheriff’s deputy told him to stop talking.

Before Victor Turner testified, another old friend of Barker’s, Tonya Ruby, took the witness stand.

Ruby said that she had not seen Barker in years. Then one day in early October, he stopped by her home. They began hanging out for about seven to 10 days.

After they had been hanging out for a few days, Barker told her that he got angry at Shelly Sue Turner and went to slap her, but accidentally hit her in the throat, Ruby said.

“He said she was gurgling and choking on her blood,” Ruby said.

Barker said he did not take her to a hospital because “it was too late” and he covered her up with some debris, Ruby said.

Ruby said she did not initially believe Barker’s story. But after she saw a news broadcast about Shelly Sue Turner’s disappearance, she thought “Oh, my God, he really did it.”

During cross examination, Ruby said she had a history of using illegal drug use and at least one felony conviction.

Earlier Thursday, Dayton Det. Dan Hall testified that police had searched for Shelly Sue Turner’s body in a swampy 40-acre parcel just west of Woodman Drive, bordering the city’s Belmont neighborhood. They did not find any trace of her, Hall said.

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Former hotel manager admits to embezzling $173,000

DAYTON — A former general manager of the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites in Centerville pleaded guilty Wednesday, Aug. 27 to one count of aggravated theft of more than $100,000.

Jimmy J. Dupre, 43, of Dayton, will be sentenced Sept. 23. The charge is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Dupre embezzled more than $173,000 from the hotel, 5655 Wilmington Pike, over a five-year period, said Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias H. Heck, Jr.

An accountant discovered the discrepancy, then hotel officials contacted Centerville police, who then contacted the prosecutor’s office’s consumer fraud and economic crimes division, Heck said.

Dupre was indicted on the charge on April 29.

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Former Northmont teacher and coach pleads guilty to misdemeanors

DAYTON — Former Northmont High school teacher and coach Loren Meadows, accused of having sexual relations with a former student, pleaded guilty Tuesday, Aug. 25, to three counts of contributing to the unruliness of a minor.

All three counts are first-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months in jail. There is no agreement as to sentencing. Under the plea agreement, Meadows will surrender his teaching license and coaching certificate. He has also agreed to never coach minors again.

Meadows appeared before Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Mary Katherine Huffman, who scheduled his sentencing for Sept. 23. The plea came six days after Meadows was convicted in Clinton County Municipal Court of misdemeanor resisting arrest.

Meadows, 35, who has resigned from the school district, taught social studies and served as assistant football coach and head boys and girls track coach.

Meadows was charged with having sexual relations with the student, a 17-year-old girl, according to Union police Chief Michael Blackwell. The offenses happened in April and May, when Meadows was both her coach and her teacher, Blackwell said.

The investigation began after Clinton County deputies discovered Meadows and the girl, both partially unclothed, in a car parked in front of a deserted house June 23. According to police, the Union resident gave a false age to officers and briefly wrestled with them.

Seven days later, Montgomery County prosecutors filed two counts of sexual battery, a felony, against Meadows. Those counts involved the same former student.

In the Clinton County case, misdemeanor charges of obstructing official business and contributing to the delinquency of a minor were dismissed, according to court records. Meadows was fined $375, plus court costs, sentenced to a suspended 30 days in jail and ordered on supervised probation for two years.

Assistant County Prosecutor Erin Claypoole told Huffman the victim, now 18, and her parents, had been consulted and found the plea agreement favorable.

Huffman allowed Meadows to stay free on his own recognizance, but ordered him to have no contact with the victim or any minors.

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Lawyer who caused standoff has license suspended, but given credit for time served under an interim suspension

DAYTON — The Ohio Supreme Court has suspended the license of a Dayton attorney who admitted firing a revolver at a police officer in January 2007, the court announced Tuesday, Aug. 25.

The court suspended Lee Howard’s license for two years, agreeing with findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that Howard engaged in illegal conduct involving moral turpitude and conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice.

Howard will be given credit for time already served since his interim suspension on Aug. 30, 2007. Under the court’s decision, he must successfully complete a mental health evaluation prior to reinstatement of his license.

The court noted that Howard practiced nearly 30 years of law practice without prior disciplinary infractions. The court also noted that, on the night of the incident, Howard had been awakened from a deep sleep by a spotlight being shined into his darkened home, and that the uniformed officer who entered his yard was obscured by the glare of his spotlight and did not identify himself as the police.

Howard, 59, pleaded guilty April 4, 2007 to felonious assault and inducing panic. He was sentenced to five years probation. Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Froelich also ordered him to get mental health and substance abuse treatment and to make restitution, including for the cost of the Special Weapons and Tactics team call out he caused.

Officer Jeff Hieber wrote in his incident report that he had found a stolen car in an alley behind Howard’s home, 133 E. Hudson Ave., when something whizzed near him and struck the ground.

A man appeared at a window of the house. Hieber wrote that he called for backup after someone then thrust a handgun out the window minutes later and fired once in his direction.

Howard was ultimately forced from his home by officers firing teargas.

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Missing woman: Turner told co-worker she wanted to end relationship with Barker

DAYTON — Shelly Sue Turner, missing since Sept. 2006, had tired of her relationship with Harold Barker, a friend and co-worker testified Tuesday, Aug. 25.

“She just wanted to end it,” Apache Page said.

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Shelly Sue Turner
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Harold Barker

Barker, 55, is on trial this week on charges of murder, felonious assault and tampering with evidence. All charges deal with Turner’s disappearance. The trial, before Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara P. Gorman, started Monday.

Page and Turner worked together at the Valley Thrift store, 1717 Woodman Drive in Kettering, for about six months before Turner vanished Sept. 30, 2006.

During that time, Barker used to come in and stand around. He would rarely speak, but would watch Turner work, Page said.

“Did that strike you as strange?” assistant county prosecutor Janna Huber asked.

“Yes,” Page said.

Page and Turner worked together on Sept. 30, but Turner did not come to work on Oct. 3 for her next scheduled shift. But Barker showed up, Page said.

Barker told her that he and Turner had fought and that Turner left with some other guy named “Bill,” Page said.

Barker told police that he and Turner were outside Shag’s Tavern, 1926 Smithville Road, when a silver car pulled up outside the bar and someone yelled Turner’s name, according to a police incident report. Barker said Turner walked to the car, handed Barker his ring and left with a guy named “Bill,” according to the report.

Page said Barker came back a few times and asked about whether she had heard from Turner. But he seemed more concerned about whether police had been to the store and what investigators were asking, Page said.

On Barker’s final visit to the store, Page said, she asked him what ditch did he leave Turner in.

“He just gave me an overall strange look,” Page said.

Barker never returned after that, she said.

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Missing woman: Defendant said he would do ‘something bad’ before she disappeared

DAYTON — A week before his girlfriend vanished, Harold Barker told a bartender that he was going to do something that would return him to prison, the bartender testified Tuesday, Aug. 25.

“I could tell that he was extremely agitated and upset,” said Monica Davis, a bartender at Shag’s Tavern. “He told me he was going to do something bad and he was going to go back to jail.”

Davis said that Barker and Shelly Sue Turner were regulars at the bar, and that they usually came in every weekend. But this was the only time she ever saw Barker in the bar without Turner. He did not specify what “bad” thing he was going to do, Davis said.

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Shelly Sue Turner
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Harold Barker

Barker, 55, is on trial this week on charges of murder, felonious assault and tampering with evidence. All charges deal with Turner’s disappearance. The trial, before Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara P. Gorman, started Monday.

Barker told police that he last saw Turner, 38, outside Shags Tavern, 1926 Smithville Road, on Sept. 30, 2006. Turner’s belongings, including her Ford Explorer, were found at her home. Her body was never found, but police have said they are certain she is dead.

Under cross examination, Davis said that Turner and Barker seemed happy together, and told her about a month earlier that they were engaged.

Assistant county public defender Mike Pentecost asked Davis about a police report, which quoted her as saying that Barker told her that he wasn’t upset with Turner. Davis said she did not tell police that, and that must have been a mistake.

Though she usually works Friday and Saturday nights at the bar, she was off Sept. 30, 2006, which was a Saturday, Davis said.

The bartender who filled in for her, Brittany Eads, and a regular customer, William Davis, both testified that they did not see Turner or Barker at the bar that night. Eads said she had never seen either one before, but that she recognized most of the customers that night. William Davis said that he had spoken to them briefly on previous occasions, but did not know them well.

Barker initially cooperated with police after Turner’s family reported her missing. He told police they were outside the bar when a silver car pulled up outside the bar and someone yelled Turner’s name, according to a police incident report. Barker said Turner walked to the car, handed Barker his ring and left with a guy named “Bill,” according to the report.

William Davis, who goes by Bill, testified that he did give a woman a ride from the bar that night, but it was not Turner.

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Dayton man convicted of rape, kidnapping

DAYTON — A Dayton man accused of attacking three women was convicted Monday, Aug. 24, of two counts of rape and two counts of kidnapping.

William Spears, 30, pleaded no contest to the charges. Under the plea agreement, two other counts of rape, two counts of abduction and one count of robbery were all dismissed. The charges stem from three separate crimes with three different victims.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Mary Katherine Huffman will sentence Spears on Sept. 9. Under the plea agreement, his possible sentence will be capped at 15 years, according to court records.

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Missing woman: the murder trial of Harold Barker opens

DAYTON —¬†It has been 1,058 days since Shelly Sue Turner disappeared after last being seen with her boyfriend Harold Barker, assistant Montgomery County prosecutor Janna Huber told a jury Monday, Aug. 24.

“She was last seen with the defendant,” Huber during her opening statement. “She hasn’t been seen or heard from since.”

Barker, 55, is on trial this week on charges of murder, felonious assault and tampering with evidence. All charges deal with Turner’s disappearance. The trial, before Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara P. Gorman, started Monday.

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Shelly Sue Turner
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Harold Barker

Turner, 38, was last seen outside Shags Tavern, 1926 Smithville Road, on September 30, 2006. Police say that Barker, her boyfriend at the time, was with her at Shags. Turner’s belongings, including her Ford Explorer, were found at her home. Her body was never found, but police have said they are certain she is dead.

Huber said Turner was a devoted mother of young children, as well as an adult daughter, who was not sad or depressed and was in good health. Her bank account has not been touched since just before her disappearance.

She left her apartment without her identification, with just the clothes she was wearing and “not even a single dollar,” Huber said. “None of Shelly’s belongings are missing.”

But assistant county public defender Mike Pentecost said, in a brief opening statement, that while there is ample evidence that Turner is missing, there is none that Barker had any role in her disappearance.

“Pay attention to what’s not there,” Pentecost told the jury. “The evidence is not going to be there.”

Barker initially cooperated with police after Turner’s family reported her missing. He told police that a silver car pulled up outside the bar and someone yelled Turner’s name, according to a police incident report. Barker said Turner walked to the car, handed Barker his ring and left with a guy named “Bill,” according to the report.

Huber told the jury that this was false story.

Barker, 55, was arrested by Dayton police on April 17, the same day he was indicted.

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Higgins Station shootings: Defendant guilty of all charges

DAYTON — The man accused of shooting six people last December at the Higgins Station bar, killing one, was convicted Thursday, Aug. 20, of all 17 felony counts in his indictment.

Rodney T. Young, 29, faces the possibility of being imprisoned for life plus 130 years. Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Mary Wiseman set sentencing for Sept. 3. She also revoked all bond for Young.

After deliberating for two hours Thursday, the jury found Young guilty of one count of murder, 12 counts of felonious assault, one count of illegal possession of a firearm in a liquor permit premises, and one count of carrying a concealed weapon.

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Rodney T. Young

Two counts of possessing a weapon after a felony conviction were tried to the bench, and Wiseman convicted Young of both.

Sixteen of the counts included firearms specifications, which would add three years to a sentence, and Young was convicted of all of those as well.

The trial started Monday. Prosecutors said that Young fired into a group of people Dec. 12 while inside the bar, 420 E. Main St., Trotwood. David Watson, 21, of Dayton, was shot in the back as he tried to flee and collapsed in the bar parking lot. He was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.

Defense attorney Bobby Joe Cox presented several witnesses Wednesday and Thursday who said they were present in the bar and that they did not see Young shoot anyone. Some said they were friends of Young.

Young was released from a federal prison on supervised parole in September after serving time for a 1998 bank robbery conviction. Following the shooting, Young was a subject of a federal manhunt for violating his parole. He was arrested Dec. 19 when U.S. marshals and local authorities kicked down the door of a Fort Mitchell, Ky., motel room.

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Higgins Station: jury deliberations have started

DAYTON — The case of Rodney T. Young, accused of shooting six people last December at the Higgins Station bar, one fatally, has gone to the jury.

Young, 29, is charged with one count of murder, 12 counts of felonious assault, one count of illegal possession of a firearm in a liquor permit premises, and one count of carrying a concealed weapon. If convicted, Young faces a possibility of being imprisoned for life plus an additional 130 years.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Mary Wiseman charged the jury with the case just after 2 p.m on Thursday, Aug. 20. Young’s trial started Monday.

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Rodney T. Young

Prosecutors said that Young fired into a group of people Dec. 12 while inside the bar, 420 E. Main St., Trotwood. David Watson, 21, of Dayton, was shot in the back as he tried to flee and collapsed in the bar parking lot. He was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.

Defense attorney Bobby Joe Cox presented several witnesses Wednesday and Thursday who said they were present in the bar and that they did not see Young shoot anyone. Some said they were friends of Young.

Young was released from a federal prison on supervised parole in September after serving time for a 1998 bank robbery conviction. Following the shooting, Young was a subject of a federal manhunt for violating his parole. He was arrested Dec. 19 when U.S. marshals and local authorities kicked down the door of a Fort Mitchell, Ky., motel room.

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Panhandler convicted of murder is sentenced to prison term

DAYTON — A panhandler convicted of murdering another homeless man was sentenced Tuesday, Aug. 18 to 24 years to life in prison.

Kevin Alsup, 33, appeared before Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Frances E. McGee, who presided over his trial last month. On July 16, the jury convicted him of all indicted charges: two counts of murder, two counts of felonious assault and one count of tampering with evidence.

The murder and felonious assault counts were all related to the slaying of Floyd E. Drummond. Because they were for a single event, Alsup was sentenced for one count of murder and one count of felonious assault.

Drummond, 57, who was sleeping in his sleeping bag on Aug. 16 when he was bludgeoned with a heavy rock. Dayton police discovered his body, still inside the sleeping bag, at 2:22 a.m. on Maxwell Drive, which parallels Interstate 75 between First Street and Monument Avenue.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office ruled that Drummond, who suffered several skull fractures, died from blunt force trauma to the head.

During Alsup’s trial, prosecutors said that Alsup and another man, Larry Hudson, Jr., were panhandling together that day but separated briefly. Hudson panhandled under an I-75 overpass, then returned to Maxwell Drive, where he saw Alsup holding a heavy rock, which he picked up and slammed down at least twice.

As Hudson got closer, he saw Drummond’s body. Hudson then followed Alsup a block north to the shore of the Great Miami River, where Alsup hurled the rock into the water. Tests done at the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory showed Drummond’s blood was on the shirt Alsup had been wearing that day, according to prosecutors.

The attack came because, earlier in the evening, Drummond refused to give Alsup a cigarette, according to prosecutors.

Assistant county public defender Michael Pentecost told the jury that Alsup merely found Drummond’s body after he was beaten by an unknown attacker. Alsup was curious after seeing a heavy rock on Drummond’s face and picked it up, Pentecost said.

Alsup then realized that his fingerprints could be on the rock, so he panicked and threw the rock in the river, Pentecost said. He didn’t contact police because Alsup, as a homeless man, feared contact with them, Pentecost said.

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New sex charges dropped against registered sex offender

DAYTON — The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office has dropped four sex charges against a former Dayton Human Rehabilitation Center guard who was convicted in 2002 of having sex with inmates.

David Sherrer Jr., 31, a registered sex offender, was indicted in March on four counts of gross sexual imposition of a person under the age of 13. He was accused of engaging in sexual contact with his girlfriend’s daughter, who was 8 at the time.

Sherrer’s trial was scheduled to start this week. The charges were dropped July 24.

Greg Flannagan, spokesman for the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office, said he could not comment on why the charges were dropped because the case is still open. The investigation is continuing, and the charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they can be refiled later, Flannagan said.

Sherrer, son of former Dayton Police Lt. David Sherrer, was accused of fondling the girl and making her do the same to him, according to police.

In 2002, David Sherrer Jr., then a guard at the DHRC, was accused of performing sex acts with three inmates. He pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual battery, was placed on five years of community control and ordered to register as a sex offender, according to common pleas court records.

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Murder trial opens for accused Higgins Station shooter

DAYTON — The trial of a paroled bank robber, accused of shooting six people at a Trotwood bar in December, killing one, started Monday, Aug. 17.

Rodney T. Young, 29, is charged with one count of murder, 12 counts of felonious assault, one count of illegal possession of a firearm in a liquor permit premises, and one count of carrying a concealed weapon. If convicted, Young faces a possibility of being imprisoned for life plus an additional 130 years.

Assistant Montgomery County Prosecutor Sarah Schenck told the jury that Young fired toward the front of the Higgins Station bar on Dec. 12, and “the front of the bar is filled with people.”

Rodney T. Young.JPG
Rodney T. Young

The shooting at the bar, 420 E. Main St., killed David Watson, 21, of Dayton and injured five other people, Schenck said.

“David Watson was shot in the back as he tried to get away,” Schenck said.

Watson collapsed in the parking lot and was pronounced dead at an area hospital, Schenck said.

Defense attorney Bobby Joe Cox declined to give an opening statement Monday, reserving his right to give a statement later.

Prosecutors presented one witness Monday: bartender Lonista Taylor, who was working the night of the shootings.

Taylor said that she only saw the sleeve and the hand of the gunman. When Schenck asked her if she remembered identifying Young as the shooter during police photo lineups in December, or during an Aug. 7 meeting with prosecutors, she said she didn’t remember.

When Cox asked her if she was certain Young was the shooter, she asked if she had to answer yes or no. When Cox told her she did, Taylor replied “If I had to say yes or no, I would have to say no.”

But during re-direct examination by Schenck, Taylor said she did see the shooter’s face, but only the side.

Taylor also told Schenck that she was scared for herself and her children, because “a lot of people” have called her, sent her text messages, and visited her at home and at the bar.

“I feel so bad for that mother who lost her child,” Taylor said, crying. “I am all that my children have left.”

Young was released from a federal prison on supervised parole in September after serving time for a 1998 bank robbery conviction. Following the shooting, Young was a subject of a federal manhunt for violating his parole. He was arrested Dec. 19 when U.S. marshals and local authorities kicked down the door of a Fort Mitchell, Ky., motel room.

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Walmart robber gets seven years in prison

DAYTON — La’Shawn Porcher, one of two men accused of a robbery at an area Walmart that ended with the shooting of the victim, was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Mary Wiseman sentenced Porcher on Thursday, Aug. 13.

Porcher and Richard T. Elijah were scheduled to go on trial before Wiseman last week.

Porcher, 46, pleaded guilty July 24 to complicity to commit aggravated robbery. A second count, complicity to commit felonious assault, was dropped. The charge he pleaded to is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but under the plea agreement, he was to be sentenced to between five and eight years.

Just as his trial was to start Aug. 4, Elijah pleaded guilty to all indicted charges: two counts of felonious assault and one count of aggravated robbery. As part of the plea agreement, Wiseman sentenced Elijah, 47, to 10 years in prison. Had he been convicted after a trial, he could have received up to 26 years in prison.

Elijah had been released from prison just two days before the Walmart shooting for an April conviction for breaking and entering.

The incident occurred Dec. 20 at the store at 1701 W. Dorothy Lane. Gina King was wheeling a shopping cart to her car when she was robbed and shot in the abdomen. She was released from Miami Valley Hospital six days later.

Less than an hour after the robbery, Moraine police arrested Porcher and Elijah, who are both from Dayton.

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U.S. Attorney announces resignation

DAYTON - Gregory G. Lockhart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, announced Thursday, Aug. 13, that he will resign, effective at midnight on August 31.

Lockhart has served as U.S. Attorney since August 2001 when he was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Lockhart served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for 15 years prior to his appointment as U.S. Attorney.

It is common for U.S. Attorneys to resign at the start of a new presidential administration.

“I deeply appreciate the opportunity to have served as the United States Attorney for over 8 years,” Lockhart wrote in his resignation letters to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. “Service to our country has been a cornerstone of my adult life. Serving as the United States Attorney was indeed the highlight of that service.”

During Lockhart’s tenure, the office handled more than 25,000 cases involving more than 46,000 litigants. More than 3,400 indictments were returned charging more than 4,600 people with federal crimes. The office focused on prosecuting crimes involving terrorism, gun and gang crimes, fraud, and crimes involving the exploitation of children, according to a statement released by Lockhart’s office.

Notable prosecutions include: — the conviction of three people on charges of providing material support to terrorists. — the conviction in Columbus of eleven executives of National Century Financial Enterprises who were responsible for the $3.2 billion fraud that brought down that company. At the time, NCFE was the largest private securities fraud case ever prosecuted. — The prosecution in Cincinnati of executives of Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals involved in a $459 million fraud scheme. — Leaders of an organized gambling ring in Dayton were convicted after more than a decade of operation there.

Lockhart also oversaw an asset forfeiture program that returned more than $33.2 million to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to assist them in their fight against crime in southern Ohio. He also helped secure nearly $8 million in Department of Justice grants for local law enforcement agencies and community groups.

Lockhart also expanded the coordination and training elements of the District’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council. He established the district’s Project Safe Childhood team that has successfully prosecuted more than three dozen sex offenders.

Lockhart said he will always appreciate the staff at the U.S. Attorney’s office.

“The success we have realized and the initiatives we have undertaken are due in large part to the outstanding professionals in this office,” Lockhart said in the statement. “I am grateful to them and to our federal, state and local partners in law enforcement. It has been an honor to work with them.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office, with a total staff of 108, represents more than five million people in 48 of Ohio’s 88 counties. The Southern District of Ohio includes the metropolitan areas of Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton.

Prior to joining the U.S Attorney’s office, Lockhart practiced law privately between 1976 and 1987. Lockhart also worked as an assistant Greene County prosecutor, served as a legal advisor for the police departments of Xenia and Fairborn, and was a special prosecutor for Montgomery County.

Outside the office, Lockhart has taught at the University of Dayton’s College of Law and Wright State University’s Colleges of Political Science and Business. Lockhart has co-authored two publications: “Federal Grand Jury, A Guide To Law And Practice”, and “Pinkerton Liability Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines”.

Lockhart is a United States Air Force Veteran who served in Vietnam. Lockhart is a graduate of Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio (B.S. 1973), and The Ohio State University School of Law (J.D. 1976).

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Child porn charges lead to 15-year sentence for Springfield man

DAYTON — A Springfield man who had more than 600 sexually explicit images of prepubescent minors on his computer was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison Friday, Aug. 7.

Terry Flora, 60, was also ordered to forfeit his computer equipment. He will remain under court supervision for 10 years after his release from prison, under the sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Rose.

Flora pleaded guilty on May 12 to one count of receipt of child pornography.

Between February 2007 and June 2008, Flora received and traded the sexually explicit photos and videos through Internet chat rooms. Using photo sharing links, he made the images available to be viewed, saved or uploaded by others in the chat room, according to Gregory G. Lockhart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

At the time, he was on probation for convictions in Clark County Common Pleas Court on two felony state charges of pandering child pornography in 2005. Springfield Police and a probation officer arrested Flora on July 10, 2008 for violating his parole.

Flora, who has been in custody since his arrest, was remanded to custody of the U.S. Marshals on Friday to begin serving his federal sentence. His time in state custody will not count toward his federal sentence, Lockhart said.

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Castillo trial: Pitcher gets 30 days in jail; sentenced stayed

DAYTON — Julio Castillo, the former Peoria Chiefs pitcher convicted of felonious assault for beaning a fan at Fifth Third Field last summer, was sentenced to 30 days in the Montgomery County Jail and placed on three years of probation on Thursday, Aug. 6.

However, Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Connie Price issued a temporary stay of the sentence later Thursday, pending appeals, defense attorney Dennis Lieberman said.

Earlier, at the sentencing, Castillo apologized for his actions.

“I’m sorry,” Castillo told Price, speaking through an interpreter. “I didn’t want to do that.”

Castillo, 22, who is from the Dominican Republic, appeared before Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Connie S. Price, who presided over his trial from July 21 to 23.

Since Castillo waived his right to a jury trial, Price rendered the verdict on Tuesday, Aug. 4. Castillo was charged under two statutory definitions of felonious assault. Price convicted Castillo of the count that requires proving that he did “serious physical harm.” She found him not guilty of the charge that he used a “deadly weapon.”

Both charges are second-degree felonies, punishable by up to eight years in prison, though the charges could have merged for sentencing purposes had he been convicted of both.

Lieberman told Price during the sentencing hearing that the felony conviction could make it hard for Castillo to keep his work visa, and that a deportation could end his career. Castillo has been suspended from baseball for more than a year, and has already paid a terrible price, Lieberman said.

“In America, we are known for giving people a second chance,” Lieberman said. “I truly believe that Mr. Castillo is sorry and never intended to hit the spectator.”

Price said that “the court does believe that he is remorseful.”

In addition to three years probation, Price ordered Castillo to take anger management classes and to write a letter of apology.

Christopher McCarthy, 45, the Middletown man who was struck by the ball, was not in court. Price said that she had reviewed McCarthy’s victim impact statement earlier.

Assistant county prosecutor Tracey Ballard Tangeman, who prosecuted the case with assistant county prosecutor Jon Marshall, said they were satisfied with the sentence.

“We were pleased about the period of incarceration,” Tangeman said. “We felt that that was important to hold him accountable.”

After the sentencing, Lieberman said he would look at issues for a possible appeal, but was happy Price did not send Castillo to prison.

“We believe that would be inappropriate for the circumstances,” Lieberman said.

Castillo will be given credit for the night he spent in jail after the July 24, 2008 game.

Castillo was on the mound at Fifth Third Field when a brawl started on the field. Castillo ran off the mound, then hurled a baseball toward the Dayton Dragons’ dugout. The ball went high and struck McCarthy, giving him a concussion.

Prosecutors contended that Castillo threw the ball at an unidentified Dragon with the intent to hurt him.

Lieberman told Price during the trial that Castillo aimed at netting in front of the dugout, to warn the Dragons to stay back as the two teams’ managers were pushing each other. Castillo did that because he does not speak English and had no other way to communicate, Lieberman said. Because he had no intent to harm anyone, he could not be found guilty of felonious assault, Lieberman told Price last week.

Castillo remains under contract with the Chicago Cubs, who are paying his legal bills, but has not played since the incident at Fifth Third.

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ER doctor neglected to report $1.1 million in income, federal jury finds

DAYTON — A local emergency room doctor was convicted Thursday, Aug. 4, of five counts of failure to file federal income tax returns disclosing more than $1.1 million in income from area hospitals.

U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Rose scheduled a sentencing hearing for Joseph Maga on Oct. 30. A federal grand jury indicted Maga, 60, on Nov. 25. His trial started Wednesday.

Maga is an emergency room doctor employed at Grandview Medical Center and Southview Hospital, as well as Riverside Hospitals and Grant Medical Center in Columbus, according to Gregory G. Lockhart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

Evidence presented by the government during the trial showed that Maga failed to file federal income tax returns disclosing income of $182,701.32 in 2002, $260,078.85 in 2003, $255,369.89 in 2004, $240,287.91 in 2005 and $220,996.40 in 2006.

Among the 11 witnesses presented by the government were IRS agents and representatives of financial institutions and accountants familiar with Maga’s financial situation, Lockhart said.

The government also presented copies of Maga’s paychecks and tax documents he received from his employers.

Each count of willful failure to file an income tax return is punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a fine of $100,000. Maga’s sentence will also include payment of $330,702.77 in taxes due, plus penalties and interest, as well as the costs of prosecution, Lockhart said.

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Second Walmart attacker pleads out

DAYTON — The second of two men accused of robbing and shooting a 28-year-old woman at a Moraine Walmart Supercenter pleaded guilty Tuesday, Aug. 4, to felony charges.

Richard T. Elijah was to go on trial Tuesday before Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Mary Wiseman. Elijah pleaded guilty to two counts of felonious assault and one count of aggravated robbery, which were the counts in his indictment.

As part of the plea agreement, Wiseman sentenced Elijah, 47, to 10 years in prison. Had he been convicted after a trial, he could have received up to 26 years in prison.

His co-defendent, La’Shawn Porcher, 46, will be sentenced by Wiseman on Aug. 13. He pleaded guilty July 24 to complicity to commit aggravated robbery. A second count, complicity to commit felonious assault, was dropped. The charge he pleaded to is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but under the agreement, he will be sentenced to between five and eight years.

Elijah had been released from prison just two days before the Walmart shooting for an April conviction for breaking and entering.

The incident occurred Dec. 20 at the store at 1701 W. Dorothy Lane. Gina King was wheeling a shopping cart to her car when she was robbed and shot in the abdomen. She was released from Miami Valley Hospital six days later.

Less than an hour after the robbery, Moraine police arrested Porcher and Elijah, who are both from Dayton.

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Pitcher guilty of felonious assault

DAYTON — Julio Castillo, the former Peoria Chiefs pitcher who beaned a fan at Fifth Third Field last summer, was convicted of one count of felonious assault Tuesday, Aug. 4.

Castillo, 22, who is from the Dominican Republic, appeared before Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Connie S. Price, who presided over his trial from July 21 to 23. Since Castillo waived his right to a jury trial, Price rendered the verdict.

Castillo was charged under two statutory definitions of felonious assault. One requires proving that he did “serious physical harm,” which Price convicted him of. She found him not guilty of the charge that he used a “deadly weapon.”

Both charges are second-degree felonies, punishable by up to eight years in prison, though the charges could have merged for sentencing purposes should he be convicted of both.

Price set his sentencing for Aug. 6.

Defense attorney Dennis Lieberman declined to comment as he left the courtroom with Castillo.

Assistant county prosecutors Tracey Ballard Tangeman and Jon Marshall said they were disappointed by the split verdict, but happy that Castillo was convicted of one of the two felony counts.

“This paves the way for a sense of accountability,” Tangeman said.

They declined to comment on the prosecution’s position on sentencing. Tangeman said Castillo could be eligible for probation.

Castillo was on the mound at Fifth Third Field on July 24, 2008, when a brawl started on the field. Castillo ran off the mound, then hurled a baseball toward the Dayton Dragons’ dugout. The ball went high and struck spectator Christopher McCarthy, 45, of Middletown, giving McCarthy a concussion.

Prosecutors contended that Castillo threw the ball at an unidentified Dragon with the intent to hurt him.

Defense attorney Dennis Lieberman told Price during the trial that Castillo aimed at netting in front of the dugout, to warn the Dragons to stay back as the two teams’ managers were pushing each other. Castillo did that because he does not speak English and had no other way to communicate, Lieberman said. Because he had no intent to harm anyone, he could not be found guilty of felonious assault, Lieberman told Price last week.

Castillo remains under contract with the Chicago Cubs, who are paying his legal bills, but has not played since the incident at Fifth Third.

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New Lebanon man convicted of 56 child porn charges

DAYTON — A New Lebanon man, charged with 56 felony counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, pleaded no contest to all of them Tuesday, Aug. 4.

Edward Eckley, 46, appeared before Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Gregory F. Singer, who found him guilty. Singer ordered a pre-sentencing investigation and set a sentencing for Sept. 8.

One of the counts is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to eight years in prison. The rest are fourth-degree felonies, punishable by up to 18 months in prison.

A grand jury indicted Eckley on Feb. 12, 10 months after police started investigating him. Three days later, Florence, Ky., police arrested him after spotting his car in a motel parking lot there.

The investigation started after a sheriff’s office in Michigan called police April 16, 2008, reporting that investigators there had tracked a computer involved in the transmission of child pornography to an address in New Lebanon, New Lebanon Police Chief Ricky Daulton said in February.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for Eckley’s home the next day and confiscated three computers. A forensic examination at the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory revealed the presence of sexually oriented material involving minors.

After the indictment was returned, police went to Eckley’s home, but he was not there. An alert was distributed to law enforcement agencies and Florence police spotted Eckley’s car during routine license plate checks.

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Castillo verdict to be announced Tuesday

DAYTON — A Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge will render her verdict Tuesday, Aug. 4, on Julio Castillo, the former Peoria Chiefs pitcher who hurled a baseball into the stands at Fifth Third Field, injuring a fan.

Castillo, 22, who is from the Dominican Republic, will appear before Judge Connie S. Price, who presided over his trial from July 21 to 23. Since Castillo waived his right to a jury trial, Price will decide whether prosecutors have proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt

Castillo is charged under two statutory definitions of felonious assault. One requires proving that he did “serious physical harm,” the other that he used a “deadly weapon.” The charges are second-degree felonies, punishable by up to eight years in prison, though the charges could merge for sentencing purposes should he be convicted of both.

Castillo was on the mound at Fifth Third Field on July 24, 2008, when a brawl started on the field. Castillo ran off the mound, then hurled a baseball toward the Dayton Dragons’ dugout. The ball went high and struck spectator Christopher McCarthy, 45, of Middletown, giving McCarthy a concussion.

Prosecutors contend that Castillo threw the ball at an unidentified Dragon with the intent to hurt him.

Defense attorney Dennis Lieberman told Price during the trial that Castillo aimed at netting in front of the dugout, to warn the Dragons to stay back as the two teams’ managers were pushing each other. Castillo did that because he does not speak English and had no other way to communicate, Lieberman said. Because he had no intent to harm anyone, he cannot be found guilty of felonious assault, Lieberman told Price last week.

Castillo, 22, is from the Dominican Republic. He remains under contract with the Chicago Cubs, who are paying his legal bills, but has not played since the incident at Fifth Third.

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