By Ed Runyan
Roy Hahn, 41, told jurors Tuesday in Michael Burns’ murder trial that he woke up from a “dead sleep” to hear “a loud crunching or cracking” coming from a side door being pried open.
He didn’t know it was 12:30 in the morning, so he wondered if it was his girlfriend arriving to their home on Niles-Cortland Road near U.S. Route 422 in Niles.
“I called my girlfriend’s name a couple times, but she didn’t answer it,” he said during testimony in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
He got up from his bed, walked to the kitchen and saw that “someome was prying the door open.”
Moments later, he “looked out the window and saw someone or two people run to the front of the house, so I went back into my bedroom, I grabbed my shotgun, and I heard the front door being pried open, so I shot through the front door.”
Hahn’s shotgun blast killed Terry Allen, 37, of Mineral Ridge and injured Burns, 33, of Mineral Ridge, but Hahn said he didn’t know that the shot hit anyone until Niles police arrived a short time later after Hahn’s call to Niles police.
“There was two or three guys trying to get in the house,” he told the dispatcher.
Burns is charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter in Allen’s death and attempted aggravated burglary in the July 12 break-in.
In a videotaped interview with a Niles detective, Burns admitted to being part of a ring of five people who had planned to break into the house to steal copper pipes.
He described the attempted break-in and what happened after the shotgun blast.
But Burns denies having known that someone might be home, saying the house looked vacant. To find Burns guilty of murder, prosecutors must prove that Burns tried to break into a house that he could have reasonably believed was occupied.
Hahn has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the killing, even though tests indicated he had cocaine in his system.
Hahn admitted Tuesday he has abused drugs but said the cocaine in his system had come from a party a few days earlier.
Defense attorney Ronald D. Yarwood spent much of his time asking Hahn why he never told Detective Jim Robbins about how he had called out after hearing the break-in noises.
Hahn said he thought that he did tell Robbins but he doesn’t remember. He also testified that he was in fear for his life just before firing the fatal shot.
Ohio law allows a person to be punished for the murder or involuntary manslaughter of a co-defendant as long as the death is the “proximate result” of another crime being committed — in this case attempted aggravated burglary.
Testimony resumes this morning with Trumbull County Coroner Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk scheduled to take the stand.