Man: I planned to rob, not kill, victim
Shane Mitchell testified about events surrounding a Salem man's murder.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- A few hours after a man was beaten to death in a church parking lot in Salem, a defendant was telling his story to investigators.
Shane A. Mitchell, 19, of Fifth Street, Salem, said he planned only to rob a man, Salem Detective Sgt. Robert Brown testified Wednesday.
Mitchell is on trial in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court on a charge of murder.
Mitchell and Richard P. Forrester, 20, of Lisbon, were indicted after being accused of punching or kicking Bradley L. VanHorn of Salem in the head and upper body. Prosecutors say the attack took place between 1 and 4:30 a.m. Dec. 11, 2004. VanHorn's body was found near the south entrance to the church.
Forrester is serving a mandatory 15-year-to-life sentence after pleading guilty to a charge of murder.
Brown testified that his investigation made him search for Mitchell and Forrester, who initially could not be found.
Mitchell came to the police station after hearing that VanHorn was dead.
Brown testified that Mitchell's appearance was clean and neat, but that he also was nervous and upset with dry heaves and that he smelled of alcohol.
Mitchell told investigators he was drunk that night.
Brown recorded Mitchell's statement, and the tapes were played for the jury.
Mitchell told authorities that the plan was to take VanHorn's money on the pretense that they would buy drugs for him. The request to buy drugs was made at a Salem bar, he said.
A third man, who has not been charged, drove the car. Mitchell told Brown that, "we didn't specifically say that we were going to rip this guy off."
Mitchell said that when he got out of the car with Forrester and VanHorn, Forrester punched VanHorn in the back of the head and he fell.
Mitchell told Brown that when he rolled VanHorn over, Forrester kicked VanHorn in the head.
"I knew he was hurt, but I didn't know he was hurt that bad," Mitchell said.
The defendant said he was offered half of the money but added, "I was scared and didn't want any part of it."
Mitchell acknowledged he burned the clothes he was wearing earlier that day. Brown testified the charred remains were no use to forensic investigators.
Mitchell also admitted that he disposed of VanHorn's wallet in a trash receptacle. Authorities say that VanHorn's cigarette lighter also was taken.
Defense attorney Ronald Yarwood asked the detective about consistent points in Mitchell's story.
Brown answered, "The evidence doesn't match his statements."