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Marietta man sentenced for stabbing

Joseph Kirk, 29, of 276 Ridgewood Court, Apt. D., Marietta, speaks in Washington County Common Pleas Court Thursday about his drug addiction and criminal history. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

The man caught on McDonald’s security footage stabbing a man last summer in Marietta was sentenced to an indefinite prison term of four to six years Thursday.

Joseph Kirk, 29, of 276 Ridgewood Court Apt. D., Marietta, appeared in Washington County Common Pleas Court Thursday for sentencing, following a plea to one count of felonious assault, a second-degree felony.

As of Thursday, Kirk had spent 387 days in the Washington County Jail, following the stabbing off Jeffrey Powers, 30, of Marietta.

Powers was not present for the sentencing hearing, nor was a victim impact statement provided during the hearing to Judge Mark Kerenyi.

But the hearing did include more dialogue between the prosecution, defense, judge and defendant than one would often see in the courtroom.

“The defendant has been in prison before, he did seven years for burglary,” Assistant Prosecutor Joe Derkin explained, as he advocated for a four-year prison term to be assigned to Kirk.

Derkin said Powers was “lucky” that he used his hand to block the knife from entering his abdomen, and following the hearing provided access to the security video footage which shows Kirk approaching Powers, drawing back his right arm and aiming for Powers with an indiscernible object before fleeing through the eastern side door of the Glendale Road McDonald’s.

“He ran, then hid the knife in a trash can,” said Derkin.

During the hearing, Kirk’s defense attorney Greg Finnerty, out of Columbus, alleged that Kirk was too high on drugs to be aware of his actions.

“The root problem is in drug addiction…He was in a state then, he was out of his mind in this,” said Finnerty. “He did it, what the court is tasked with is the balancing act of knowing that the person was in that state of mind who yes does deserve punishment.”

When given the opportunity to speak on his own behalf, Kirk said Powers owed him money.

“I handled it the wrong way, I know what I did,” said Kirk. “I apologize for what I did.”

Kerenyi asked how long Kirk had been out of prison before the stabbing on July 15, 2019.

“I’d been out four-and-a-half, five months,” said Kirk.

“What brought you to Marietta?” asked Kerenyi.

“My childhood girlfriend, she actually moved here when I was in prison,” answered Kirk. “Her and my little girl so I came here…this all started because (Powers) stole money from me. I was helping him… I helped him and he took from me.”

Kerenyi asked Kirk how long the defendant had been addicted to drugs, to which Kirk replied that drugs had always been a part of his life and that after he got out of prison he went back to the life he knew.

“My whole life. I had a drug problem when I went to prison the first time,” said Kirk. “I was 20 when I went to prison, was 27 when I got out.”

“You’ve been clean and sober ever since you went into the county jail?” asked Kerenyi.

“Yes, sir,” replied Kirk. “Your county jail is the cleanest county jail I’ve ever been in in my life.”

Kerenyi sentenced Kirk to the indefinite term allowing for release after four years if Kirk’s documented behaviors Kerenyi noted from the Washington County Jail do not continue into his time incarcerated by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

“In addition to all of that is the fact that this happened at McDonald’s which is a very public place,” said Kerenyi. “That’s near the middle school. There were other people present for it… That concerns me. In Marietta people live here because it’s typically a nonviolent place. They don’t expect to see stabbings when they go to McDonald’s.”

“Yes, sir,” acknowledged Kirk.

“And that’s a problem we can’t allow,” said Kerenyi.

The maximum time Kirk could spend in state custody if his term is extended is a total of six years.

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