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Opening statements, witnesses in 2022 South Side murder case expected today

Staff photo / Ed Runyan John E. Morgan, 47, of Campbell, right, is seen next to his two attorneys Tuesday morning prior to the start of jury selection in Morgan’s murder trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. His attorneys are, from left, Justin Weatherly and Brandon Henderson, both of Cleveland.

YOUNGSTOWN — Opening statements and witness testimony are expected today in the murder trial of John E. Morgan, 47, of Penhale Avenue in Campbell, in the July 31, 2022, shooting death of Daniel A. Peek Sr., 46, on East Florida Avenue on the South Side.

Jury selection took place Tuesday in the courtroom of Judge Maureen Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. Morgan is charged with murder and felonious assault. Both charges related to Peek Sr.

The shooting took place on a day when Morgan had gone to Peek Sr.’s home to pick up Morgan’s grandson for a visit, but Morgan encountered Peek Sr. and a short time later Peek’s son, leading to a physical confrontation and Morgan firing his weapon, according to prosecutors.

Peek Sr. was in a relationship with Morgan’s estranged wife, and she lived with Peek Sr. at the time, according to prosecutors.

Morgan’s daughter tried to get Morgan to pick up her son a block away from Peek’s home, but Morgan refused, prosecutors said.

A hearing took place Aug. 30 to determine whether Judge Sweeney should allow a defense witness, former Akron police officer Timothy Dimoff, to testify in Morgan’s trial.

Sweeney ruled Feb. 8 that she would affirm the agreement reached by the parties that some of Dimoff’s testimony would be allowed, but only regarding his conclusion that camera footage of the shooting does not objectively and fairly depict Morgan’s “true reality and mindset of the total confrontation incident.”

The defense asked that Dimoff be allowed to testify because he is “an expert in the field of self-defense and use of force,” a defense filing states.

A copy of Dimoff’s expert report was given to prosecutors March 28. It “highlighted the different components to be considered when evaluating the use of force in self-defense cases,” the defense filing stated.

“His report further explained the limitations of camera footage in assessing the use of force and how certain circumstances can impact a person’s decision during a conflict,” the filing states.

Prosecutors are expected to show a video of the killing that prosecutors hope will prove that Morgan used excessive force and did not act in self-defense, a defense filing states.

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