After a disastrous morning of testimony against a man representing himself in a murder trial, a jury has found him guilty of aggravated murder and all four other charges against him.
Timothy Daniel, 34, placed an ex-girlfriend, Heidi McGilton, on the stand this morning to testify on his behalf. But McGilton told him she wouldn’t lie for him. And on cross-examination, she told the Muskingum County prosecutor that Daniel sent her letters detailing a scheme to bribe other witnesses with drugs so that they would say Daniel killed Charles Michael Hooper, 61, in self defense.
“That kind of really changed my whole game plan there,” Daniel told the jury after McGilton’s testimony.
Daniel was accused of murder in Hooper’s death. Hooper was shot during the early morning hours of Oct. 31 at a Burger King in South Zanesville. Another ex-girlfriend, Darlene Bender, had fled to the restaurant after a fight with Daniel. Prosecutors say that Daniel went to the restaurant and argued with Bender. When Hooper, sitting at a nearby booth, said “Hey, hey, that’s enough,” Daniel hit him with a pistol and then shot him in the forehead, Prosecutors said.
Daniel told the jury that he killed Hooper in self defense after Hooper attacked him.
He didn’t count on McGilton being arrested last night for possession of Heroin. Muskingum County Prosecutor Mike Haddox had already rested his case against Daniel that morning. But McGilton told Haddox of the letters and he was ready this morning.
On cross-examination, McGilton told Haddox that Daniel proposed the following plan: She was to take $1,800 and buy crystal meth. She would then use the drugs to bribe witnesses, including Bender, to testify that they were at the Burger King and that Daniel was acting in self defense. Bender was supposed to testify that she knew Hooper and that he was protecting her because he was her “sugar daddy.”
On Tuesday, Daniel tried to get Bender to say just that on the stand. But Bender testified that she’d never seen Hooper until she walked into the Burger King that morning.
This morning, McGilton testified that after Bender refused to take part in Daniel’s scheme, she instead used the money to pay for Christmas presents.
Prosecutors say they'll ask for maximum sentences to be served consecutively. The maximum penalty Daniel faces for aggravated murder is life without parole.
In 2004, Daniel was charged with murder in the shooting death of Luke Morbitzer outside a bar on the North Side of Columbus. He also represented himself in that trial and a Franklin County jury acquitted him.
By Eric Lyttle - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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