Testimony began Tuesday in the trial in Allen County Common Pleas Court of a Lima man accused of physically assaulting the mother of his child and leaving the scene of the incident in the woman’s vehicle which contained the child.
Keyown Pryor, who turns 28 on Wednesday, was indicted by a grand jury in January on two counts of kidnapping, felonies of the first degree; two third-degree felony counts of domestic violence and a single count of grand theft of a motor vehicle, a felony of the fourth degree in connection with the incident that took place in December of last year.
The charges stem from two separate instances, one on Nov. 28 and another on Dec. 6, 2021, in which the defendant is accused of striking Rachel Hooker, his then-girlfriend, while she was driving with their child in the vehicle. In the Dec. 6 incident, Pryor is also accused of taking control of Hooker’s vehicle without her permission and driving away with the child. The vehicle and the child were both recovered later on Dec. 6.
When Hooker took the stand, Prosecuting Attorney Mariah Cunningham asked her to describe the incident on Nov. 28. She testified that she was driving with Pryor and their son from a church service to McDonald’s on Shawnee Road when Pryor began to strike her on the hand and face. Hooker pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot, where an altercation between the two took place that was captured on the restaurant’s security camera.
The security camera footage, as well as photos that prosecutors say show bruises sustained in the incident to Hooker’s hand and face, were shown to the jury.
A witness, Jeffrey Marchal, later testified that he was getting lunch at the nearby Arby’s when he heard a “blood-curdling scream.”
“It was so intense, I thought someone was being killed,” he said. “My heart was in my throat.”
Marchal testified that he witnessed Pryor throwing punches at the driver of the vehicle. However, he added that Pryor’s silhouette blocked the view, so he could not see if these punches were connecting with the driver.
After this incident, the couple entered into a voluntary agreement with Allen County Children Services in which Pryor was not to have contact with either Hooker or the child. However, Hooker testified that Pryor contacted her on Dec. 6 and asked for a ride. Though she was reluctant, she said that she felt threatened by Pryor and complied.
Hooker said that when she arrived to pick up Pryor, he began to strike her on the head and face and pulled her hair. Once she stopped the vehicle, she said that Pryor drove away without her permission with their child in the backseat. An ambulance called by a bystander arrived on the scene and transported Hooker to Mercy Health-St. Rita’s.
Jurors were shown images taken in the ambulance of cuts, scrapes and bruises on Hooker’s face, as well as swelling and a bloody nose. Images taken by Hooker and her mother of the injuries in the days following Dec. 6 were also presented.
Defense attorney Chima Ekeh argued that Pryor is not the clear-cut “devil” in the relationship that the prosecution portrays.
In his opening argument, Ekeh characterized Pryor and Hooker as having a toxic relationship to which both parties contributed. He claimed that “the state will attempt to portray Mr. Pryor as the devil in this relationship. We believe that the evidence will show this is not the case,” he said.
“There is nothing like domestic violence, nothing like kidnapping, and nothing like grand theft auto in this case,” he added.
Hooker’s previous conviction of falsification for filing a false police report against Pryor was brought into question. When asked by the prosecution why she is telling the truth now, she said, “I’ve been in trouble before; now I need to protect my son and protect myself.”
The trial will continue at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday.