Judge finds Lima man guilty of felonious assault with firearm

LIMA — The state’s star witness, by her own admission, didn’t want to be there. The defense attorney’s constant objections were almost unanimously overruled by the presiding judge. Prosecutors and the defense attorney squabbled frequently and the judge grew increasingly agitated.

So went the morning in Allen County Common Pleas Court Tuesday during the one-day trial of Paris Jackson, a 27-year-old Lima man charged with felonious assault with a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon and the improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle.

By mid-afternoon the trial had come to an end. After little more than an hour of deliberation, Judge David Cheney — who heard the case in the absence of a jury — found Jackson guilty on all three counts. Sentencing was scheduled for July 11.

Jackson was indicted by a grand jury in connection with an incident that took place Feb. 1 in a parking lot at the Lima Estates Apartment in the 700 block of East Fourth Street. Police responded to the scene that afternoon in response to a report of gunshots fired. According to police, Jackson and Jason Ward met in the parking lot to execute a drug deal. An argument ensued and, according to a witness, Jackson brandished a handgun and fired shots in Ward’s direction.

The state pinned its case on surveillance videos taken at the apartment complex that appeared to show the confrontation between Jackson and Ward. The man described as Jackson appeared at several points to be pointing a firearm in Ward’s direction.

Collaborating the video was the testimony of Kristina Owens. Owens testified she had driven Jackson to the apartment complex that day. She said an argument ensued.

“Did somebody pull a gun?” asked Assistant Prosecutor Tony Miller.

“Yes … it was Paris,” Owens said.

“Were there shots fired?” Miller asked.

“Yes … Paris fired shots,” Owens testified.

Defense Attorney Greg Donohue, however, attempted to discredit Owens’ testimony, claiming she had given three statements to police and that each was different from the previous one. He then played for the court an audio recording of an interview of Owens conducted by Lima Police Department Detective Steve Stechschulte. In the interview, Owens said she did not believe Jackson was shooting at Ward.

In his closing arguments, Donohue said what took place in the apartment parking lot that day was “nothing more than a verbal argument about pot.”

“There is no evidence to support the state’s charge of felonious assault. The state has failed to meet its burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.

But the judge — the only one whose opinion mattered — disagreed.

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