Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dillard Case

In todays paper..

What they saw: Witnesses describe shooting scene

POSTED: May 7, 2009

LISBON - They heard gunshots; they saw Jamie Farley lying in the intersection as a crowd gathered at one end of Commerce Street, and they saw Eric Dillard surrender at the other end of the Wellsville block.

Witnesses testified to the details of what they knew as testimony began Wednesday in the jury trial against Dillard, the 31-year-old Wellsville resident charged with killing Farley, a 35-year-old man from East Liverpool who showed up at his house concerning their clothing business venture.

The state called 11 witnesses to the stand in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court, with county Chief Assistant Prosecutor John Gamble advising Judge C. Ashley Pike they were about halfway through their list, with several scientific witnesses remaining.

Once the prosecution is finished presenting evidence to support the elements of the charges against Dillard, the defense team will present its own evidence to support their client's claim of self-defense. The trial is expected to last into next week.

Dillard was indicted last year for one count of murder with a gun specification and one count of having weapons under disability for the April 22, 2008, shooting in front of his house. If convicted, he could face 15 years to life in prison for the murder charge.

The last witness of the day was the first to report hearing and seeing the event as it happened. Eddie Mercer said he was hanging out on the wall near his home on Commerce Street waiting for his friend John Crawford, who was walking up Commerce Street from Ninth Street. Once he arrived, Mercer said they could hear some arguing on Commerce Street, but they couldn't really see anything.

Then they heard what sounded like gunshots - pop, pop, pop, pop - and saw it get bright down there. He wasn't sure if it was headlights from a car or what it was. About five or six seconds later, a car traveled down the street with the door open, and when it turned the corner onto 10th Street, a man fell out onto the street.

Mercer told Crawford to get his mother as he ran over to the victim, who he said told him, "Man, I think I'm gonna die."

He took his shirt and placed it on the wound, and his mother came over and held the shirt as he yelled at police officers he saw at the other end of the street toward Ninth Street. Then he saw Lt. Ed Wilson and Patrolman Marsha Eisenhart arrive on the scene from 10th Street.

Mercer's mother, Robin, had no medical training, but said she applied pressure to the wound on the victim's abdomen. He told her he couldn't breathe and she told him to lie still. She couldn't recall his saying anything else, although both Eisenhart and Wilson testified that Farley said Dillard shot him.

Just prior to the shooting, Wellsville Patrolman Tony Mancuso said he and fellow officer David Anderson stopped for dinner at DaLonzo's Restaurant when they received a call at 9:58 p.m. for shots fired at the Dillard residence.

Mancuso testified that he saw the defendant standing in front of his house with a gun in his right hand; he put his hands in the air, put the gun on the ground and then put his hands back up and walked toward the police cruiser. Dillard said he was the one doing the shooting.

Mancuso also testified that the gun, later identified as a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun, was jammed, with the slide locked back and a round in the chamber, which he turned over to Anderson, who then turned the weapon over to Wilson. He heard people yelling and screaming at the other intersection and saw Eisenhart talking to the victim.

During a search of a field across the street from Dillard's and in between the houses on the street, Mancuso said nothing was found. Anderson, who no longer works for the department, said Dillard told him he shot Farley. Dillard said he was scared and knew Farley carries guns and then told him about their business and how the landlord wouldn't let them inside the building to get their merchandise.

They had a verbal altercation; Farley went to leave, then he said he came back with his hands in front of his pants. Then he shot him.

According to Anderson, Dillard said,"'I got sick of him threatening me."

Anderson also noted that Dillard was caught using a cell phone in the back of the cruiser while he was handcuffed, and the phone was confiscated. Gamble asked both him and Mancuso if they had received any calls earlier indicating the defendant had been threatened by anyone, including Farley, but they said no.

Under cross-examination, he also indicated he received no calls about Farley having a gun pulled on him. All the officers indicated a crowd had gathered before they arrived, and some time passed before some of the searches were conducted at the scene, including a search of the sewer drains on 10th Street where Dillard's girlfriend said she heard a gun might have been tossed. No gun was found during an initial search or after a camera was placed into the drains.

Both Eisenhart and Wilson were on another call at the cemetery on 10th Street when they reported hearing two gunshots and then a call on the radio for shots fired. At the scene, she said they determined Farley's girlfriend, Shirley Hackney, had been driving the car. Two children were in the back seat, and Hackney's mother, Andrea, also was there. At the time, Wilson said he didn't know who they were, but he placed them and a third woman in a cruiser because they were creating a ruckus.

A retired Sheriff's Office deputy, Larry Paynter, lived in the neighborhood and heard a commotion outside, so he went to investigate. He offered to help Eisenhart with the crowd and testified about the size of the crowd and the women screaming and acting up.

In earlier testimony, Trooper Christopher T. Jester of the Ohio State Highway Patrol told how he created a diagram of the scene. During cross-examination by Hartford, he used a calculator and ruler to create two scaled drawings of the car the victim had been inside and of a 2008 Hummer H3, then used scissors to cut them out. They weren't in the scene when he made his diagram.

Farley's mother and other family members became visibly upset during the morning session when defense attorney Doug King had a photograph of the deceased victim on the podium and they saw it. During testimony of Dr. William Graham Jr., the county coroner, King asked him to read the list of scars and identifying marks on the autopsy report. The list included tattoos depicting the sun, the name Jamie and the words "Thug life."

Graham said Farley's cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds, and the manner of death was homicide, which he defined as "deliberately taking of another's life."

Other testimony dealt with court records about Dillard's prior drug charge which prohibited him from having weapons. Tod Mumpire, chief deputy systems administrator for the county Clerk of Courts, and probation officer Mike Rosta both testified about the prohibition.

No comments: