MAHONING COUNTY Prosecution: It was road rage
The problems started on I-680 as both cars were headed for Boardman.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Prosecutors say it was road rage that caused Tina Davis to shoot pepper spray at three men who had cut in front of her car on a freeway and then run over one of them with her car.
Defense attorney Lou D'Apolito said Davis was merely defending herself and trying to escape from the men who had taunted her on the highway and then shouted gender and racial slurs at her in a parking lot.
Davis, 37, of Powers Way, is charged with felonious assault for running over 43-year-old David Morrow of Austintown with her car in the parking lot of a Boardman restaurant in March 2000. She is on trial before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Morrow, his brother Mike of Youngstown, and Harry Nidel of Warren, who all work for the same elevator maintenance company, were in a car headed to lunch that day when the problems began, said Assistant Prosecutor Patrick R. Pochiro.
What prosecutors said: Mike Morrow was driving and angered Davis by cutting in front of her car on Interstate 680, Pochiro said.
She made obscene gestures toward the men, then followed their car off I-680 onto U.S. Route 224 and into the Red Lobster parking lot, he said.
Pochiro said Davis got out of her car screaming at the men, pulled a can of pepper spray from her purse and started spraying it at them.
When the men scattered, Davis got back into her car and ran over David Morrow, who was running across the parking lot, the prosecutor said.
David Morrow was treated at St. Elizabeth Health Center.
What defense said: Defense attorney Robert Rohrbaugh said Davis pulled in behind the men only to write down their license plate number because they had harassed her on the freeway by veering in and out of her lane. He said the men's car cut in front of Davis' car and repeatedly braked and sped up to distract her.
In the parking lot, the men ran to her car, shouted racial and gender insults at her and blocked her from leaving, Rohrbaugh said. Davis is black; all three men are white.
She used the pepper spray to force them back from her car, then tried to drive away, he said. As she pulled forward, David Morrow dove on the hood of her car to prevent her from leaving, Rohrbaugh said.
Nidel said he was riding in the back seat and did not see which driver actually cut in front of the other.
He said both drivers made hand gestures toward each other while on the freeway and that they had argued in the parking lot before Davis got out the pepper spray.
David Morrow also said he did not see what started the situation on the freeway and denied that the men harassed Davis in any way. Davis is expected to testify later.