Defendant takes stand in attempted murder trial


By JUSTIN DENNIS

jdennis@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The man who admitted shooting his girlfriend in the head during an argument told a jury it was in self-defense, testifying she said “I should kill you” before appearing to reach for a gun.

“I feared for my life. ... I was trying to defuse the situation,” testified Terrance Edmonds, 31, of Youngstown, whose attempted murder trial continued Tuesday in the courtroom of Judge R. Scott Krichbaum in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Edmonds is accused of firing the shot that left his girlfriend, Denise Thurston, 32, in a vegetative state during an argument July 21 at his East Hilton Avenue home. He faces other counts of felonious assault, domestic violence and illegally possessing a weapon. If Thurston dies from her injury, he will face a murder charge.

Both Edmonds and his mother Freida Hicks – with whom Edmonds lives – took the stand late in the day. Both described the early morning hours of July 21, when Edmonds’ defense attorney argues Thurston fired several shots at the East Hilton home while enraged with Edmonds, accusing him of infidelity.

Thurston reportedly took to Facebook Live to reach Edmonds at about 3:30 a.m. while at the East Hilton home, attempting to confront Edmonds.

“She said, ‘If you don’t come outside, I’m going to start shooting,’” Edmonds said.

Electronic gunfire sensors in the South Side area reported 10 shots were fired just after 3:45 a.m. July 21. Prosecutors said police responded to the area but Edmonds claimed Thurston had fled the scene. Neither Edmonds nor Hicks told investigators Thurston fired the shots, prosecutors said.

Thurston returned shortly after, and Edmonds testified he asked her to return so they could talk. Edmonds said he brought his loaded .380-caliber handgun with him for his protection. Thurston remained in her vehicle as they spoke through the driver’s-side window.

Edmonds testified Thurston was emotional and accused him of lying about his whereabouts earlier that morning. He said he saw Thurston reach to her side, as if for a firearm. Edmonds said he knew Thurston to carry a 9 mm handgun.

Edmonds said he fired one shot, without looking, before running away. He said he didn’t realize he had struck her until he noticed her vehicle drifting slowly off the road. He told Hicks to call 911.

Paramedic Rick Valesco, who transported Thurston for trauma care that morning, said she suffered one gunshot wound to the head.

Though officers recovered one 9 mm shell casing and a loaded 9 mm magazine from inside Thurston’s car and several live rounds nearby outside the vehicle, they did not locate a gun, prosecutors said.

Steven Yacovone, assistant county prosecutor, pressed Edmonds on many points of his testimony.

“You bring a loaded .380 pistol with you to ‘defuse the situation?’” Yacovone said, later adding, “Your first course of action – without knowing what she has – was to pull out your gun and pop a round off at her head?”

Prosecutors have rested their case. Defense attorney Robert Rohrbaugh expects to call one more witness. Jurors are expected to hear closing arguments and receive the case for deliberation today.

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