Youngstown man convicted of assault, kidnapping
By ED RUNYAN
YOUNGSTOWN — In closing arguments Wednesday, the prosecutor and defense attorney agreed on almost nothing while summarizing the testimony in the Daniel J. Uncapher kidnapping and assault trial.
A few hours later, when the jury came back with a verdict, that settled the argument.
Allegations were that Uncapher, 27, of Dearborn Street, restrained and assaulted a former girlfriend. He was found guilty on all counts and could get more than 10 years in prison when he is sentenced later.
In his closing argument, Kevin Trapp, assistant county prosecutor, described the injury Uncapher inflicted on the woman by biting her Sept. 27 at her Oak Hill Avenue apartment as “almost [having] a chunk of her face ripped off by the defendant.”
Defense attorney Ron Knickerbocker, conversely, showed a photo of the face of Marissa Rodriguez taken not long after the episode and called the injury a “welt.”
“Do you see disfigurement?” Knockerbocker asked jurors. “She refused to go to the hospital. There were no broken bones. There was no broken skin. There’s no serious injury here.”
The trial, which took place over three days in the Mahoning County Common Pleas courtroom of Judge Anthony Donofrio, included a defendant with a gun tattoo on his face and a petite, weeping young woman who testified to moving here from upstate New York three years ago to live with her youngest son’s father.
She met Uncapher online and enjoyed his company for about a month until he showed up drunk late Sept. 26, acting strangely and spilling alcohol on her couch and floor, prompting an argument, she said.
He started behaving aggressively, so she yelled out the back door for help but no one came. He choked her, bruised her, bit her face and later bit her leg, she said.
“I thought he was going to kill me. All I was thinking was what is he going to do to my children?” she said of the two youngsters asleep upstairs.
Uncapher also took the witness stand, saying he bit the woman in a struggle for the last bit of crack cocaine in a pipe they were sharing. He said their dispute arose because he told her he was no longer going to see her, and she took the news badly.
Trapp used an expletive while telling jurors this was all untrue. “It doesn’t purport with common sense,” Trapp added.
Knickerbocker elaborated on Uncapher’s testimony, saying: “He bit her to get her to let go of that crack pipe.”
“This is basically a domestic violence case,” he said. “It’s definitely not a kidnapping. There’s no evidence of that except for her saying it.” Knickerbocker said she lied because she wanted to punish Uncapher because she was a “scorned woman.”