LIMA — Jurors deliberated for less than two hours Wednesday before returning guilty verdicts against Lima resident John Sanders on charges of kidnapping and felonious assault.
Sanders was on trial in Allen County Common Pleas Court for pointing a gun at the head of his former girlfriend, placing a pistol in her mouth and then discharging the weapon toward her through a closed door.
He served as his own attorney throughout the trial and was the sole witness for the defense.
Neither Sanders nor his girlfriend/victim displayed any emotion as the verdicts were read. Judge Jeffrey Reed ordered a pre-sentence investigation and a psychological evaluation to be completed on Sanders before an Aug. 16 sentencing.
From the witness stand Wednesday, Sanders led jurors on a rambling tale during which he confirmed several of the allegations against him. He admitted placing a gun in the mouth of Dawn Bloomfield, his live-in girlfriend at the time, although he said a clip with ammunition was not inserted in the pistol.
He acknowledged discharging the handgun twice through a steel entry door when he knew Bloomfield was on their other side of that door, but said he took great care to assure the bullets would exit above Bloomfield’s head. He said the shots were intended to serve as a warning to Bloomfield that she should get away from him for her own safety.
“I did things wrong that day … horrible things. But I did my best not to hurt anyone, including myself. I told (Dawn) to get away from me. I didn’t restrain her. I needed her to be safe,” Sanders said.
Turning to Bloomfield, who was seated in the gallery, Sanders said, “I still love you, Dawn.”
The woman took the witness stand Tuesday and told jurors she still loves Sanders with all her heart.
Sanders, 48, was indicted in December 2019 on a first-degree charge of kidnapping and a second-degree felony count of felonious assault. Each count includes three-year specifications for the use of a firearm. The incidents in question took place on Sept. 22, 2019, at a South Collett Street residence in Lima.
During closing arguments, Sanders said the charges against him “don’t fit” what actually happened between himself and the victim.
“Was I wrong that day? You bet. But my purpose was not to harm Dawn. My purpose was to save her,” he said. “If I really wanted to hurt people, I could have.”
Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Everhart told jurors the state had met its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Sanders was guilty of the charges against him.
Everhart said the kidnapping occurred the moment Sanders placed a gun inside Bloomfield’s mouth. The fact it was not loaded is of no consequence, he added, because Bloomfield’s freedom of movement was at that point restricted by her fear of injury or death.
The elements necessary for a felonious assault charge were met when Sanders shot through the door, “not knowing where the bullets would go,” Everhart said.