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MAHONING COUNTY Man gets 8 years for pointing gun at officer



Published: Wed, August 28, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The defendant attributed his actions to alcohol abuse.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A man convicted of pointing a gun at a Sebring policeman who was trying to arrest him is going to prison for eight years.

A jury in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court found Alan J. Christian, 36, of East Maryland Avenue, Sebring, guilty in April of one count of felonious assault.

Christian pointed a gun at Sebring police officer Michael Porter, who was trying to arrest him in January on a charge of domestic violence.

The sentencing was delayed because Christian fired his court-appointed lawyer, Mark Lavelle, immediately after the verdict. Atty. John B. Juhasz was appointed to represent Christian for the sentencing but needed time to review the trial transcripts and make other preparations.

Christian said he accepts responsibility for his actions, which he said were caused by alcohol abuse. But he insisted that he never meant to harm Porter, or anyone else, during the fight.

Despite the verdict, Christian also said he did not point a gun at Porter, who was not in court for the sentencing.

Assistant Prosecutor Robert Andrews said Porter had asked that the maximum sentence of 10 years be imposed.

"He fully believed that everything he had would be gone that night, and that he'd never see his family again," Andrews said.

Juhasz requested the minimum sentence of three years, pointing out that the gun was not fired and no one was hurt in the fracas.

Judge Robert Lisotto decided on a five-year sentence, with an additional, mandatory three years because Christian used a gun. Under Ohio law, the sentences must be served consecutively.

Background

Christian's girlfriend, Debbie Hudson, had sworn out a domestic violence complaint against him after the two had fought at their home in January. Police found Christian a short time later at a friend's home on West Ohio Avenue.

Porter said during the trial that Christian reached under a chair and pulled out a semiautomatic .45-caliber handgun when police arrived and raised it toward Porter's face.

Porter drew his own gun but did not shoot. Instead, he grabbed the hand in which Christian held the gun and fought with him. When another officer arrived, Christian dropped his gun and surrendered.

Cathleen Fellure, who lived at the West Ohio Avenue home where Christian was arrested, testified that it was Porter, not Christian who pulled a gun. She said Christian never had a gun in his hand.

Judge Lisotto denied a request from Juhasz that Christian be allowed to remain out of jail while he appeals.

bjackson@vindy.com




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