GREENVILLE — The prosecution and defense rested in the Ryan Monahan shooting trial in Darke County Common Pleas Court Thursday with Judge Jonathan P. Hein presiding.
Monahan, 19, is accused of shooting a teen girl in the neck following a June 9, 2017, altercation at his Greenville home.
During the second day of the trial, Assistant Prosecutor James Bennett called five additional witnesses — the emergency room doctor who treated the gunshot victim, three forensic scientists, and the lead detective on the case.
Dr. Salita Kaistha treated the victim’s injuries at Wayne HealthCare Emergency Room the night of the incident. She testified while the injuries suffered were not life threatening, the location of the wounds, particularly on the neck, were of concern.
Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) Forensic Scientist Suzanne Elliott examined the rear window of the pickup truck, and told the court she believed the projectile had been fired from outside the vehicle. She would not confirm what type of projectile had been the cause.
BCI Forensic Scientist Andrew McClellan examined the .22 rifle reportedly fired at the truck. He confirmed the two shell casings found at the scene had been fired from this rifle.
Results of DNA testing performed one of the two BB-handguns found near the scene showed DNA from both Ryan Monahan and one of his brothers, according to BCI Forensic Scientist Logan Schepler. DNA results on the second BB-handgun were inconclusive, he said.
Greenville Police Detective Jason Marion, the lead detective assigned to the case was the final prosecution witness. He contended the BB-handgun containing Monahan’s DNA had been “planted” at the scene by the defendant, leading the prosecution to charge Monahan with tampering with evidence. Marion testified he believed the shot from the .22 rifle which struck the teen girl had indeed been fired as the vehicle was on the road traveling northbound, not while still parked in the driveway as Monahan had claimed in an early statement to police.
Defense Attorney Dave Rohrer questioned Marion’s conclusions, claiming it was improbable the victim had been shot where she said, based upon how she was seated on the jump seat in the truck. As well, he claimed the police had pressured Monahan into changing his account by having him jailed after he was indicted.
While Monahan did not testify on his own behalf, the defense called three witnesses — two of Monahan’s brothers and private investigator John Schmidt.
The brothers testified they had been riding their bikes near the residence when the truck pulled into the driveway. Both stated they entered the residence and did not witness the alleged shot towards the truck. Both denied owning a BB gun.
Schmidt, who investigated the case on behalf of the defense, attempted to propose an alternate scenario on how the teen girl was shot, suggesting instead she had been shot by a BB at close range. Assistant Prosecutor James Bennett questioned both the qualifications of the private investigator and the methods he used to promote the BB theory, namely shooting a BB from three feet away into the back window of a 1993 Chevy S-10, while not attempting to duplicate the shooting with a .22 rifle at a longer range.
In his closing argument, Bennett said while the evidence showed the four occupants of the truck “clearly went there for trouble,” once a firearm was shot at the truck leaving the scene, the defendant’s claims of self defense were not legitimate.
“He doesn’t get the luxury of that argument,” said Bennett, again noting the defendant had eventually admitted to police he had indeed fired at the truck as it was leaving.
Rohrer countered the dark conditions at the crime scene and the position of the victim in the truck both precluded the possibility of the incident happening as described by the police.
“The court needs to take into consideration a lot of things, including the impossibility of that shot the way [the victim] was sitting in that vehicle,” he said. “There is room for reasonable doubt.”
Judge Hein is expected to render a verdict either Friday or early next week.
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