Wednesday killing may produce more talk of right to protect home, self

By Ed Runyan


Trumbull County prosecutors again may have to ponder a case dealing with the rights of a homeowner to protect himself when faced with a threat.

A Warren police report regarding the noontime Wednesday shooting death of Kyran Adkins, 17, of Milton Street Southeast, reveals that the homeowner who shot him said he fired at Adkins after a confrontation outside the house.

Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, Trumbull County coroner, has ruled Adkins’ death a homicide as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest.

The 32-year-old Brier Street man said he was inside his house and heard banging outside, from the back. He heard the noise several times before grabbing his gun and going to the door just before noon.

When he “opened the door, a male wearing a red jacket with a gray hood had a gun in his hand,” the homeowner said.

“Another subject was behind the house and [he] did not get a good look at him,” but the homeowner said he thought the second male was wearing a navy-blue jacket, the police report says.

The homeowner “said that he was startled once he seen the gun and fired his gun” and that both males ran toward Wick Street to the south.

Police placed five evidence markers in the driveway beside the Brier Street residence, indicating the location of evidence they collected, possibly bullet casings.

A witness on Wick Street said he saw Adkins and the other male running between the houses with their hooded sweatshirts pulled up over their heads. He looked out and saw them after hearing about a dozen gunshots, he said.

Adkins collapsed in the backyard of a house on Wick Street and was pronounced dead later at ValleyCare Trumbull Memorial Hospital.

The second male continued to run into the woods behind the house and has not been located.

Police have classified the case as an aggravated burglary.

The case has similarities to two other cases involving homeowners defending themselves from intruders in the Warren-Niles area.

In the most-recent case, four burglars were convicted in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court for their role in a July 12, 2013, burglary at a house on Niles-Cortland Road in Niles in which the homeowner fired a gun through his front door, killing a fifth burglar as he tried to pry open the front door with a tire iron.

The homeowner, who said he awoke to the sound of burglars trying to get into the house, was cleared of any wrongdoing.

The other involved a 52-year-old man who fired a gun at two Warren youths who were vandalizing a campaign sign in front of his Dover Street, Warren Township house in October 2008.

In that case, the homeowner eventually was convicted of aggravated assault, a felony, and placed on five years’ probation and ordered to pay restitution to the families of the boys, one of whom was shot in the arm during the incident.

The youths, ages 16 and 17, told police they were heading home after getting a haircut at 2 p.m. on a Saturday. One of them got out of their car and knocked over a John McCain campaign sign in the front yard of the Dover Street house, yelling, “This is for Obama.”

The homeowner, who was sitting on the front porch, went inside, got a .22-caliber rifle and fired three times, hitting their car twice and hitting one of the boys once.

Greg Hicks, Warren law director, said the homeowner was charged because he had gone “above and beyond what is needed to protect your home,” so Ohio’s Castle Doctrine law did not protect him from prosecution.

In the case of the Niles burglars, the Castle Doctrine granted the homeowner the right to protect himself because he was defending himself or another person in his home or car, Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins said.

But in the Warren Township case, the homeowner “never said anything about concerns for his safety or his home” in a statement to police, Hicks said.

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