Prosecutors hope the verdict will help put a damper on road rage in the area.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A Mahoning County common pleas jury heard about a highway fight that spilled over into violence in a Boardman parking lot. Now a city woman could face prison for running over a man with her car.
The moral of the story, said an assistant county prosecutor, is that people had better think twice before acting out their road rage.
"This is an example of how a little incident gets blown up and escalates and ends up with somebody being injured or even killed," said Patrick R. Pochiro.
Woman convicted: The jury deliberated about 90 minutes before convicting 37-year-old Tina Davis of Powers Way of felonious assault. She faces two to eight years in prison, or could be placed on probation.
Judge R. Scott Krichbaum ordered a background check on Davis before sentencing. She is being held in the county jail.
Pochiro said he hopes other drivers get the message that road rage won't be tolerated, especially when it escalates into violence.
"This is not a small thing," he said. "Someone drifted into someone else's lane on the freeway, and it ended up with someone getting run over by a car."
Defense attorney Lou D'Apolito was disappointed and surprised by the verdict. He believes that three men in a car instigated the highway encounter with Davis, then benefited by seeing her convicted for running over one of them.
Not credible: Jurors heard from all of the participants and did not believe Davis, Pochiro said.
Authorities said Davis and Mike Morrow of Youngstown were each driving south on Interstate 680 in March 2000 when one car drifted into the other's lane. Each said the other was at fault and no evidence was produced to prove one way or the other.
Morrow's 43-year-old brother, David of Austintown, and Harry Nidel of Warren were in the car with him. They work for the same elevator maintenance company and were on their way to lunch in Boardman.
Davis testified she was headed for a credit union in Boardman to cash her paychecks and take care of some personal business.
Pochiro said Davis became angry and followed the car off Interstate 680 onto U.S. Route 224 in Boardman, then into the parking lot of a restaurant, where the drivers got out of their cars and argued.
Man run over: When Morrow turned to walk away, Davis shot pepper spray at him, causing the men to scatter. As they fled, Davis got into her car and ran over David Morrow, who was running across the parking lot.
Davis, though, said she did not get out of her car because she was afraid of the men, and denied running over David Morrow. She said he dived onto her car as she tried to drive away.
Pochiro said there were too many holes in Davis' version of the story, which is why the jury discounted it. She insisted that she followed the men and stopped directly behind their car only to write down their license plate number.
Pochiro said if she were truly afraid of the men, she should have kept her distance until they were out of the car and inside the restaurant before pulling up to write down the number.
"There were just too many things about her version that didn't make sense," he said.