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Kidnapping trial begins for Youngstown man

YOUNGSTOWN — A former Youngstown woman testified that she “didn’t really think anything wild of” the tattoos on the face of Daniel J. Uncapher, 27, when she met him on Facebook earlier this year.

Uncapher later choked, bit and assaulted her in her Oak Hill Avenue home in late September, she testfied during a trial Monday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, where Uncapher is charged with kidnapping, abduction, obstructing official business and aggravated menacing.

The trial resumes today before Judge Anthony Donofrio.

If convicted, Uncapher could get more than 10 years in prison.

Marissa Rodriguez, 25, had just kicked out her boyfriend of several years when she met Uncapher, of Dearborn Avenue. She testified she responded to an instant message on Facebook from Uncapher because she was lonely. She is originally from New York state and moved to the area three years ago.

She and Uncapher messaged for a while; then she allowed him to come to her apartment and they got along well, she said. “It was good. He seemed like a really good friend,” she testified.

After about a month, however, one night in late September, he texted her about 11:30 p.m. to tell her he was on his way over. She said her two children were asleep, and she was not concerned.

But he “smelled like alcohol really bad,” had a bottle of alcohol with him and was “acting really weird,” she said. He kept “repeating himself over and over” regarding another woman. She told him, “You don’t look well. Maybe you should go home and get some rest,” she said.

Then he spilled alcohol on her couch and floor and she asked him to stop, she said. She went to the kitchen to get a towel to clean it up.

But Uncapher wouldn’t let her out of the kitchen, pushing her back a few times, she said. “I was terrified. I knew that something bad was going to start happening.

“I tried to open my back door to get out, and he wouldn’t let me. My arm was closed in it, so I just screamed outside my back door ‘Help me. Call the cops,’ hoping the neighbors would hear me. He closed the door and locked it and that’s when he started choking me.”

He pushed her head into the kitchen window, she testified. “I was screaming at the top of my lungs,” she said. “I felt he was going to kill me.”

She said Uncapher smiled and laughed and was “grinding his teeth really loud,” she said. He threw her across the kitchen.

She was able to get her cell phone and texted a friend around 1:15 a.m. from the bathroom and later called 911, whispering into the phone. When police arrived, they took Uncapher into custody.

Uncapher bit her on her cheek and her leg, jurors heard from Kevin Trapp, assistant Mahoning County prosecutor.

Defense attorney Ronald Knickerbocker told jurors that kidnapping or the lesser charge of abduction will not be proven by Trapp. “This is basically a domestic violence,” he said. “I think at the end of this case that the state will not be able to prove that Mr. Uncapher restrained her liberty in any way,” he said.

erunyan@tribtoday.com