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Suspect's fate now in hands of jury



Published: Tue, April 5, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The prosecutor called the defendant a 'con artist.'

YOUNGSTOWN -- A Mahoning County jury is scheduled to begin deliberations today on the fate of John J. Hohvart of Mineral Ridge, who is accused of beating and abducting his former girlfriend last fall.

Hohvart, 34, of Niles-Carver Road, could face up to 13 years in prison if convicted on charges of felonious assault and abduction if Judge James C. Evans of common pleas court rules the time should run consecutively.

The trial began last week, and testimony covered five days.

The prosecution

In closing arguments, Atty. Dawn Krueger, an assistant county prosecutor, said Hohvart's world was "closing in on him."

The ex-girlfriend was leaving him, his wife was suing him for child support, and he was behind in his rent. She painted Hohvart as a violent man, and not the cool, calm and collected person who testified on the witness stand.

She added that the victim, 24, of Salem, positively identified Hohvart at the man who broke her nose, dislocated her jaw, loosened her teeth and scarred her for life.

Krueger also said Hohvart threatened to kill the victim, constantly had her under his physical control and placed the victim in such fear that she felt she couldn't get away from him.

The state also produced conclusive DNA tests that showed that blood found on the passenger seat of Hohvart's car matched the victim's blood.

The defense

Defense lawyer Ted Macejko Jr. told the jurors the matter should be relatively simple to decide, especially when they went over the testimony and the evidence.

Hohvart's defense is that he did not touch the victim Oct. 3, 2004, as they drove around several sites through Austintown, and that the victim already was beaten when he saw her.

Macejko added that if the victim was so traumatized by the attack allegedly committed by his client, she wouldn't have repeatedly called him, went out to dinner with him 14 days later and agreed to go back to his apartment after the dinner.

"She was beaten, but when and where did that happen?" Macejko asked.

He added that the victim said Hohvart choked her into unconsciousness and threw her out of the car. But there is no conclusive evidence those events happened, Macejko said.

He said that the victim did not cooperate with police the day of the attack and that that she didn't press charges against Hohvart at that time. Also, no police investigation turned up a knife the victim said was in Hohvart's car.

Macejko said the state failed to prove every aspect of both charges, and there was insufficient evidence presented to show Hohvart did the crimes to which he is charged.

On rebuttal, Krueger reminded the jurors that "too much of a defense is no defense at all." She said Hohvart testified to at least eight defenses, all of which removed culpability from himself and placed everything on the victim.

She called Hohvart a con artist who even had lied about his past violent episodes with his wife. She had played a 911 tape to the jurors in which Hohvart threatened to kill his wife and their unborn child.




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