SALEM MURDER TRIAL Witness: Family should know truth
Richard Forrester admitted, however, he had repeatedly lied to police.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- A man who testified against a co-defendant says he wanted the victim's family to know what happened to Bradley L. VanHorn.
Richard P. Forrester, 20, of Lisbon, who is serving a mandatory 15-year-to-life sentence on a murder charge, testified Thursday in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court in the murder trial of Shane A. Mitchell, 19, of Salem.
The two men were indicted after being accused of punching or kicking VanHorn of Salem in the head and chest early Dec. 11, 2004. Authorities say the two men planned to rob VanHorn, 35.
Mitchell also is charged with aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence.
The defense has argued that Mitchell did not take part in the beating and that Forrester cut a deal to get a lighter sentence. A robbery charge against Forrester was dropped in exchange for his testimony.
But, Forrester testified, "It wasn't much of a deal."
Lied about whereabouts
Forrester admitted under oath that he had initially lied to police about where he was when the murder took place. He first claimed he was in Alliance, and then with a woman all night.
Forrester also admitted he lied about being at the Side Door, a Salem bar, where the robbery plan was hatched.
Under questioning by John Gamble, an assistant county prosecutor, Forrester said he now was trying to do what was right.
"I think the victim's family deserves to hear what happened," Forrester testified.
Salem police had asked a woman Forrester knew to tell him to turn himself in. Forrester didn't, even though he knew VanHorn had died. He was taken into custody by Boardman police late on the day of the killing.
Forrester also testified that he had about 20 drinks that day.
Forrester's mother, Valerie Rimoldi, testified that when she saw her son in police custody, he told her, "We were going to get some coke for a dude. We tried to rob him, beat him down and he died."
VanHorn's body was found near a door to First Christian Church in Salem.
Edward Carlini, a special agent for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, testified there was blood on the church wall and sidewalk.
The blood on the wall, Carlini testified, "was well over three feet from the ground."
The agent testified that it appeared VanHorn's body had been moved or rolled over after he was injured.
"This blood spatter was not caused by this body in this position," Carlini testified.
If convicted, Mitchell faces 15 years to life in prison for the murder charge, three to 10 years on the robbery charge and five years on the tampering charge.