McCONNELSVILLE-A Morgan County jury was not swayed by personal testimony from accused murderer Timmy Stevens during the final day of his trial Wednesday in Morgan County Common Pleas Court, as he claimed he shot his friend in self defense.
The jury returned guilty verdicts on six out of the seven charges against Stevens despite testimony from Stevens and another witness that Stevens had acted in self defense last June when he shot and killed his good friend, 36-year-old John Davis III, and wounded his 3-year-old great-nephew in the melee.
The jury deliberated for two hours after three days of testimony.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Murder suspect Timmy Stevens cries on the stand in Morgan County Common Pleas Court Wednesday as he recounts how he shot and killed his good friend in self defense. Later Wednesday, a jury found Stevens guilty of murder.
Stevens' friends and family members held one another, sobbing progressively louder as each of the guilty verdicts were read aloud.
Stevens wiped away tears, as he had done many times throughout the three-day trial including earlier Wednesday when he took the stand to testify about the events that led him to kill Davis at a Morgan County Road 2 home on June 12, 2012.
"He tried to kill me," Stevens said of Davis. "He pulls his gun, makes sure he has one in the chamber, and he points it at me at waist level, and that's when I pulled the trigger."
Verdicts and maximum sentences
- Murder -guilty (15 years to life plus three years for a gun specification)
- Felonious assault-guilty (8 years plus three years for a gun specification)
- Having weapons under a disability-guilty (three years)
- Intimidation of a witness-not guilty
- Tampering with evidence-guilty (three years)
- Grand theft of a motor vehicle-guilty (18 months)
- Abuse of a corpse-guilty (one year)
Others had testified that both Stevens and Davis had guns the day of the shooting, despite the fact that both were convicted felons. Whether Davis had wielded his gun was one area in which Stevens' testimony differed from that his niece had given Monday.
Stevens' niece, 29-year-old Crystal Mayle, was also Davis' girlfriend and the mother of the young boy who was shot. She testified Monday that Davis' gun had been on the passenger side floor of her white Kia rental car for the duration of the two men's fight.
The topic of the fight was another point of contention.
Stevens testified that he and Davis had not been fighting about Stevens' underage girlfriend as Mayle previously testified.
Rather the fight had been about Mayle's 3-year-old son, who was with the trio that day, said Stevens.
"John was wanting to go get some crack, but I said we couldn't take (the boy) with us," he testified.
Stevens' testimony was backed up Wednesday by statements from 18-year-old Katelynn Leie.
Leie, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, said she was not Stevens' girlfriend as other witnesses had previously testified.
Initially Leie had told officers with the Morgan County Sheriff's Office that she had seen nothing during the incident. The next morning, she changed her mind and gave a recorded statement which was played in court.
"John got in the car and acted like he was going to leave, but he didn't. He like whipped it back in and like he was gonna run Timmy over, but Timmy moved out of the way," she said on the tape.
She said the young boy had been out of the vehicle with her when the shooting happened and not in the vehicle as Mayle had testified.
Stevens' insinuated that the boy had been shot during a previous accident.
"I didn't shoot (the boy), period. (The boy) was already shot," Stevens told Ohio Assistant Attorney General Paul Scarsella during his cross-examination.
Scarsella acted as co-counsel with Morgan County Prosecutor Mark Howdyshell.
Stevens' attorney, public defender Greg Meyers, pointed to the lack of a bullet marking on the rear passenger door near where the child would have been seated.
Meyers has argued since the start of a trial that Davis had a violent reputation, often pointing to his nickname -The Hammer.
Stevens testified that Davis had introduced himself by the nickname, which he had received after going to prison for beating someone in the head with a hammer, Stevens said.
"There were lawmen with their own guns on their hips who were afraid of John Davis," Meyers said during closing statements.
After shooting Davis, Stevens testified that he had pulled the man into the passenger seat of his niece's rental car, drove to Bald Eagle Road in Windsor Township, and dragged the body off the road and into the woods.
"I couldn't handle him being in the car with me anymore," said Stevens.
He then hid the car behind a trailer in Stockport and hitched a ride with a stranger to Delaware, Ohio, where he was arrested more than a month later.
In addition to guilty verdicts for the murder and the felonious assault of the boy, the jury found Stevens guilty of having weapons while under a disability, tampering with evidence, grand theft of a murder vehicle and abuse of a corpse.
They returned a single not guilty verdict-for intimidating a witness.
Mayle had testified that her uncle had wrestled her to the ground after the shooting and threatened to kill her if she went to law enforcement.
A sentencing date for Stevens has not yet been set.
The punishment for murder is an indefinite sentence of 15 years to life in prison. If he receives the maximum penalty on the other five charges, he would not be eligible for parole after 37 and a half years.