MCCONNELSVILLE, Ohio - The murder trial began Monday for a Zanesville man accused of shooting and killing his good friend in Morgan County last year, and also shooting a 3-year-old child who witnessed the crime.
Timmy Stevens, 40, is accused of the June 12, 2012 murder of 36-year-old John Davis III of Plain City. Both men had been staying at various Morgan County locations at the time of the incident.
The men were good friends who acted more like brothers, testified 29-year-old Crystal Mayle.
Photo by Jasmine Rogers
Accused of shooting and killing a good friend, former Zanesville resident Timmy Stevens, 40, left, looks on as his niece testifies about the evening of the shooting during his trial Monday in Morgan County Common Pleas Court.
"They had arguments sometimes, but nothing serious," testified Mayle, who is Stevens' niece and Davis' girlfriend. Mayle witnessed the shooting and reported it to police.
By the time officers arrived at the scene of the shooting - a home just south of Malta on Morgan County Road 2 where Stevens had been staying periodically - both men were gone.
Davis' decomposed body was found more than a week later near a creek on Bald Eagle Road in Windsor Township. Stevens was arrested nearly a month later.
He is also being tried for felonious assault out of the same incident for allegedly wounding Mayle's 3-year-old son during the shooting.
Stevens is guilty of the shooting, but not of murder, said his attorney, public defender Greg Meyers, during opening statements.
"In that moment if his purpose was to defend his life....that is not murder," said Meyers.
Meyers contended that Davis was an aggressive man, asking a handful of the witnesses, including Mayle, if they knew Davis' nickname. The answer - The Hammer - was rooted in Davis' violent reputation, said Meyers.
Both men had a gun on them the day of the argument, though neither man was legally allowed to possess a firearm because of previous felony charges, he said.
Davis was wanted on multiple felony warrants at the time of the shooting, testified Mayle.
She recounted the argument between the two men, which had escalated as the three were heading to Zanesville in Mayle's rental car.
"Timmy was mad because (his girlfriend) couldn't go with us," said Mayle.
The fight also revolved around the girlfriend's young age. She was 14 or 15 at the time of the incident, recalled Mayle.
The girlfriend had stayed behind to babysit Mayle's son at the residence that would later become the scene of the shooting.
The home belonged to Morgan County resident Rose "Pineapple" Handley, who said Stevens had been staying at her home but did not have permission to be there when she was not home.
"He wasn't supposed to be there. No one was," testified Handley, who had been in Lowell when she was contacted about a possible murder at her home.
As the fight between the two men escalated, they returned to the residence rather than continue to Zanesville.
It was there that Meyers asserts Davis tried to run Stevens down with Mayle's rental car.
"That car was a deadly weapon," he said. But the prosecution countered that was not the case.
"This was a purposeful killing. This was not an accident. This was not justified," said Ohio Assistant Attorney General Paul Scarsella, who acted as co-counsel with Morgan County Prosecutor Mark Howdyshell.
While the argument went as far as Davis getting out of the car and slapping Stevens across the face, Davis never threatened Stevens, Mayle testified.
Davis also did not have his gun on him during the argument because he had handed it to Mayle before he got out of the car, she said.
As Mayle loaded her son into the car and Davis re-entered the driver's side after a brief fight, she heard three shots, she testified through hushed sobs.
Stevens also brushed away tears as Mayle recounted her realization that Davis had been shot.
"I thought Timmy was just shooting in the air, then I see John's head," she said.
Davis had been shot through the head.
In a fit of rage, Mayle admitted she grabbed her boyfriend's gun and tried unsuccessfully to shoot her own uncle.
"He bum rushed me and was banging my head on the ground," she said of losing the gun.
Mayle said Stevens had threatened to shoot her because she was going to tell on him.
She eventually ran away down County Road 2, leaving her son at the residence with the juvenile girlfriend.
Mayle said she did not realize until arriving at the sheriff's office later that her son had been shot.
The boy was treated for the wound and is doing well, she testified.