LIMA — The man who owed Charles McGuire a drug debt told the jury Monday another man attacked his family and was stabbed and killed in self-defense.
Michael Hartman Jr. said he agreed to pay McGuire with a $75 gift card for marijuana but the debt quickly grew to $750. McGuire sent James Gipson over to their home to collect the debt and Gipson attacked the Hartman family with a crowbar, including striking Hartman in the face, he said.
“I tackled him to the ground and tried to stop him from hitting my mother,” Hartman said.
Hartman’s stepfather and young brother joined in to try to stop Gipson. Hartman’s brother used his tactical fighting knife he just got for Christmas and just sharpened minutes before to stab Gipson twice, Hartman said.
Gipson ran out the door and collapsed just down the road during the Dec. 27 incident.
McGuire is charged with murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary in connection with Gipson’s death because he sent Gipson over to collect on the drug debt, prosecutors said.
Charles J. Hartman, Michael Hartman's brother, testified that he grabbed his tactical knife and stabbed Gipson after Gipson attacked his brother and mother with a crowbar. He said he stabbed Gipson twice.
Assistant Allen County Prosecutor Jennifer King told the jury during her opening statement McGuire was guilty of the charges under Ohio’s complicity law, despite not being at the crime scene.
King also said McGuire became impatient, instead of waiting for Hartman to get the card for Christmas. McGuire went to the home where Hartman stayed with his mother, stepfather and brother to collect on the debt early on Dec. 20.
During that visit, he assaulted Hartman’s stepfather and took two gift cards worth $150. McGuire told them they stilled owed $600, King said.
“The family is now scared,” she said.
The family sought a protection order against McGuire, which they received Dec. 26, one day before Gipson's death, King said.
McGuire’s attorney, Joe Benavidez, said Hartman’s family owed more than a drug debt. The stepfather broke a chair at McGuire’s home, stored food in his freezer when their freezer was broke, and the stepfather used McGuire’s computer.
“Mr. McGuire denies that he sent Mr. Gipson over there,” Benavidez said.
McGuire’s trial will resume Tuesday morning in Allen County Common Pleas Court.