By Ed Runyan
It’s high time that burglars understand that they are responsible for whatever mayhem their actions cause, including the death of their spouse or buddy, Niles police said Thursday.
To that end, a Niles woman and Mineral Ridge man were arraigned Thursday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court on identical murder, burglary and involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of their purported accomplice in a July 12 burglary.
Michael S. Burns, 33, Mineral Ridge, and Mindy C. Sierra, 32, of East Federal Street in Niles, pleaded innocent, and Judge Andrew Logan set bond at $500,000 each. If convicted of murder, they could get 15 years to life in prison.
Another man and woman, including the dead man’s wife, are at large but are expected to face the same charges.
Police say Terry D. Allen, 37, of Mineral Ridge, died from a shotgun blast that hit him as he attempted to break into the front door of Roy Hahn’s home on state Route 46 just south of U.S. Route 422 at 12:30 a.m.
Hahn said he fired the gun through his front door after seeing and hearing what he believed were burglars trying to get in.
Burns was right behind Allen at the time and also was hit by the blast but survived. Police say Scott C. Crislip, 18, of Cedar Street in Niles was nearby but not hit.
Sierra and Allen’s wife, Nichole Allen, 35, participated in the burglary but were in a van and not outside the home, police said.
“They are equally culpable” for Terry Allen’s death, said Capt. Ken Criswell of the four individuals tied to the burglary.
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins said Thursday that Hahn would not face charges for killing Allen because under Ohio law, he had “no duty to retreat before using force in self defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence.”
Chris Becker, an assistant county prosecutor, said he doesn’t believe there ever has ben a murder prosecution in Trumbull County like this before, but the “proximate-cause” part of law has been used many times elsewhere in Ohio.
The four purported co-conspirators caused Allen’s death “as a proximate result” of participating in an attempted aggravated burglary of Hahn’s home, Becker said.
When asked the difference between Hahn’s actions July 12 and those of Warren Township resident Kenneth Rowles in 2008, when Rowles fired a rifle at two teens who entered his front yard and damaged his John McCain campaign sign, Becker said Hahn’s situation involved the shooter believing he was “in imminent danger,” whereas Rowles’ situation did not.
Rowles was convicted of aggravated assault and was placed on probation. One of the gunshots hit one of the teens and another hit their car.
Criswell said police and the U.S. Marshal’s Service have been looking for Crislip and Nichole Allen for a few days but haven’t found them.
“We’d like them to turn themselves in so nobody gets hurt,” Crisell said.