YOUNGSTOWN Judge: Man is guilty in murder
The defendant had claimed the shooting was an accident.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- As deputy sheriffs cuffed the 5-foot, 7-inch, 265-pound Pernell Harrison, he faced his wife and wept.
Moments earlier, Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge James C. Evans had found the 40-year-old Oak Street man guilty of the 1998 murder of his live-in girlfriend Ada Hill.
Hill, 36, was killed after being shot in the chest in the basement of the couple's home.
Wearing a tan suit during the Monday court proceeding, Harrison had accepted the verdict calmly, until he looked at his wife. The woman, wearing pink hospital scrubs, sobbed loudly as she hugged him.
Harrison had been free on $150,000 pending the verdict. As deputies escorted him from the courtroom he lamented that he had not been able to say goodbye to his mother, who sat in the courtroom.
In his ruling, Judge Evans said Harrison intended to kill Hill. The judge issued the ruling because Harrison had opted against a jury trial.
Witnesses said the couple had argued over unexpected guests and television programs in the hours before the shooting.
A friend, and the friend's uncle, brother and sister had unexpectedly visited Hill on the night of her death, one witness said. When she called Harrison to let him know, he came home and seemed suspicious as to why one of the men was there. Another witness said Harrison told him he would "take care of" Hill when the visitors left.
The couple also argued because Harrison put a football game on television when she wanted to watch a movie.
Police said the woman was killed within minutes of the group leaving. There were no eyewitnesses.
While Harrison told police the gun fired accidentally when he dropped it on the floor, Judge Evans said Harrison's story had "changed three times."
The judge said Harrison had a tendency to display anger and, possibly, violence toward the victim and that he was angry with Hill just before the shooting.
Sentencing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. today.