LIMA — Jurors in the murder trial of a man prosecutors say used a tree limb to strike and kill his victim saw a 17-second cell phone video of the fatal incident during the trial’s opening day Tuesday in Allen County Common Pleas Court.
A woman who saw the assault from her porch less than a half block away said the sound of the impact resembled that of a baseball bat striking a ball.
The defense attorney told jurors in his opening statements that the defendant in the case acted in self-defense.
A jury of seven men and five women was seated Tuesday afternoon to hear the case of Clois-Ray Adkins, a 21-year-old Tennessee native who is charged with two counts of murder and two counts of felonious assault in the death of Robert Smith II, 22, of Lima, during a fight on the evening of Sept. 3, 2017.
Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Thines, in his opening statement to jurors, said testimony in the trial will show that Adkins traveled back and forth between Lima and Tennessee after developing a romantic relationship with an underage girl.
The girl, described in various testimony as being between the ages of 14 and 16, was described by one witness Tuesday as being “mentally handicapped” and acting “younger than her age.”
Thines said Adkins was confronted by several persons in the Holmes-Milburn-Catalpa neighborhood of Lima to stay away from the young girl.
According to court documents, officers from the Lima Police Department were dispatched to the area of Holmes and Milburn avenues in Lima shortly before 8 p.m. on the night in question in response to the report of a fight.
Police officials said Adkins was armed with a large tree limb and struck Smith in the head one time with the limb. Smith was taken to Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center with traumatic head injuries and died the following day.
Thines said evidence in the trial will show that Adkins deliberately removed a limb from a downed tree and strategically placed it at a location at the intersection of Holmes and Milburn avenues in anticipation of a confrontation.
“It will be proven that Clois Ray Adkins did cause the death of Robert Smith II,” Thines said.
Defense Attorney Steve Chamberlain said some facts in the case are beyond dispute.
“Robert Smith is dead, and it’s clear by the evidence that he died due to a stick to his temple,” Chamberlain told jurors. “But the evidence will show that Clois Ray Adkins acted in self-defense … when Robby (Smith) came up to him in a threatening manner” to voice his objection to Adkins’ involvement with the young girl.
Linda Roby, who resides near the site where the incident took place, testified that Adkins was being harassed by “a group of kids on bikes who were calling him a ‘cho-mo’ … street language for child molester” immediately prior to the assault.
Roby said Smith approached the defendant after some in a passing car stopped and said Adkins had been seen with the young girl in question a short time previously.
Roby testified that Adkins “picked up the stick and hit Robby in the head. I called 911 and ran to Robby. He wasn’t responding.”
Testimony will resume in the trial on Wednesday morning.