McCONNELSVILLE-Standing to address the friends and family of the man he killed, convicted Morgan County murderer Timmy Stevens reiterated the defense he put forth during trial.
“I didn’t shoot an innocent man,” Stevens, 40, said Tuesday in Morgan County Common Pleas Court just before he was sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 36 years.
Stevens admitted during his early July trial that he shot and killed his good friend, 36-year-old John Davis III, but claimed the killing was an act of self-defense.
“I’m sorry that John’s gone. If he wouldn’t have pulled a gun on me, he’d still be here,” he said as he faced Davis’ loved ones.
Stevens was also convicted of a second-degree felony count of felonious assault for shooting his now 3-year-old great-nephew during the June 12, 2012 incident that left Davis dead.
The boy’s mother-Stevens’ niece Crystal Mayle-was dating Davis and was a witness to the shooting.
Mayle testified at trial that Davis had never threatened Stevens with a gun or tried to run him over with a car like Stevens and another witness had testified.
“I love you. You put me in a situation where I had no choice but to tell,” she said in a statement prior to sentencing.
Mayle said during trial that Stevens had possibly shot Davis to protect her because Davis was an abusive boyfriend. But that was no excuse, she said Tuesday.
“You and John are a lot alike. You abused your girlfriends…They’re somebody’s niece too, but did (he) deserve to die for it?” she asked.
Mayle and others wore shirts bearing Davis’ smiling photo. She sat across the aisle from her own family members, whom she has “lost” as a result of her testimony against Stevens, she said.
Mayle’s sister, Liz Walker, said after the sentencing the family adamantly believes Stevens’ testimony that Davis had brandished a gun at him the during the confrontation that lead up to the fatal shot.
“He’s not going to shoot somebody just because,” said Walker, of Columbus.
Walker said she believes Mayle’s relationship with Davis caused her to lie on the witness stand. Walker added that some people believe the 3-year-old boy had been accidentally shot days before the killing-something that had been alluded to during trial but quickly suppressed by an objection by the prosecution.
“People around here (saw the boy) saying ‘pow pow in my leg’ two days before the shooting,” said Walker.
Mayle also brought up the allegation during her statement, saying that she resented the insinuation that she would hide the fact her son had been previously shot.
“When he sees your picture, he says ‘That’s my uncle Tim. He shot me,'” said Mayle.
Stevens looked at Mayle as she spoke, but mostly turned to look at his own family as Davis’ mother and sister stood to make similar statements.
“You show no remorse for murdering my son. You want to blame everyone else for your actions,” said Davis’ mother, Becky Davis.
John’s sister, Shelly Short, acknowledged having rough patches in her relationship with her brother, but said Stevens robbed them of a happy future together.
“You took away my chance to tell and show my brother how much I loved him,” she said.
John also left behind five children who now have only their father’s ashes, she said.
Defense attorney Greg Meyers filed two motions that were addressed before sentencing, one of which was a request for a new trial.
Meyers alleged in the motion that one of the jurors failed to disclose that his sister was the victim of a brutal murder in 2009.
“That sort of information certainly should have been given. I would have most certainly asked that he be excused,” said Meyers.
The juror in question, Noah Matthews, was possibly the brother of murder victim Abi Matthews. Stevens once dated Abi and was possibly related to her killer-Travis Fisher, said Meyers.
But Morgan County Prosecutor Mark Howdyshell and Ohio Assistant Attorney General Paul Scarsella argued the juror had never been posed a specific question which would require him to disclose that fact.
Morgan County Common Pleas Judge D.W. Favreau agreed.
“It’s my understanding the question was if the jurors had any family member that was a victim of crime that would in any way affect their ability to be impartial and all of the (seated) jurors indicated they could be impartial,” he said.
Meyers also asked that the charges of murder and felonious assault against Stevens be merged into one charge and that the four lesser charges-having weapons under a disability, tampering with evidence, grant theft of a motor vehicle and abuse of a corpse-all be merged together.
Ultimately Favreau did not merge any of the charges. He did order a mix of concurrent and consecutive sentences on the various charges.
Stevens was sentenced to life in prison on the murder charge with parole eligibility after 15 years. Additionally, he received consecutive eight, three, and 10 year sentences for felonious assault, a gun specification and a repeat violent offender specification.
An additional 29 and a half years on the remaining charges, including additional gun and repeat violent offender specifications, were ordered to be served concurrently.
Stevens indicated he plans to appeal the conviction.