Attorneys: 'Ongoing soap opera' led to crowbar assault

Teen on trial for attempted murder.
Cary Ashby
Nov 20, 2013


A suspected accomplice who drove his best friend to the scene of a crowbar attack that severely injured a Dayton-area teenager is on trial this week in Huron County Common Pleas Court.

Connor C.D. Holbrook, 19, of 840 Kilbourne St., Bellevue, is charged with one count each of conspiracy, attempted murder and obstructing justice as well as two charges of felonious assault. Holbrook earlier posted 10 percent of a $100,000 bond.

Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler, in his opening statement Wednesday, said the question is how Holbrook could be "an innocent bystander" if he drove co-defendant Tyler G. Smith to the Peru Township crime scene, knowing Smith threatened to make the victim "swallow his teeth."

"(He) knew what was going down," Leffler said.

On Nov. 13, Smith, 19, of 223 Hamilton St., Bellevue, was sentenced to nine years in prison for smashing the skull of 19-year-old Austin Thornton with a crowbar. In early October, Smith pleaded guilty to attempted murder. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dismissed one count each of conspiracy and tampering with evidence plus two charges of felonious assault.

Thornton attended Graham High School in the Dayton area with Smith's ex-girlfriend. Thornton was visiting the 19-year-old girl, who was two to three months pregnant with Smith's child, at the time of the April 21 attack. Attorneys have said a vulgar "Twitter war" and texting between Smith's ex-girlfriend and another woman "got others upset" and led to the attempted murder.

Holbrook's defense attorney, Ed Rhode, said his client "never hit anybody" and "never planned to hit anybody." Rhode said Smith, on the night of the assault, was to led to believe his ex-girlfriend was texting him at the same time she was driving to Dayton to pick up the victim -- even though Thornton had driven to the rural Willard home himself -- and this made Smith jealous.

"There was no premeditated thought to take someone else's life. Connor will testify this was a repeating drama -- month after month," Rhode said. "There was no heavy veil of threat."

Citing the "ongoing soap opera" between Smith and his ex-girlfriend, Rhode said their on-again, off-again relationship over the years could be "more defined by their arguments they had" than by being an actual relationship, but since Holbrook is Smith's best friend, he stood by him. Rhode told the jury that Holbrook advised Smith he shouldn't be with his ex-girlfriend.

"You're never going to have a happy life together," Rhode said, referring to what Holbrook allegedly told Smith.

Again reportedly quoting his client, Rhode said, "I'm not going to get into this."

"He didn't have anything to do with this," he added.

Rhode said it's possible testimony will reveal the ex-girlfriend and another accomplice, Brianna M. Boonie, "may have fueled this fire."

Holbrook's girlfriend, Boonie, 19, of Bellevue, has a Dec. 10 trial date on one count each of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder or murder and obstructing justice. She posted a $75,000 bond May 23 -- about four days after being arrested in court on the warrant.

The trio of accomplices went to the Peru Township home supposedly just to have "a rather peaceful conversation," Rhode said, but Smith earlier told the court he "lost his mind." The defendant, when sentenced, denied going to there to kill Thornton.

One doctor gave the victim an 80 percent chance of dying. Leffler said when Willard Police Officer Adam Strong got Thornton out of his friends' vehicle at the hospital, he was "totally limp" and dead weight.

"The EMT at the scene thought he had died," Leffler said when Smith was sentenced.

Leffler told the jurors Wednesday the victim is a "lovely young man" and "hard working kid" who was a "star athlete" in high school.

"What's left is not so great," said Leffler, adding that Thornton has serious short-term memory issues. "He's been put back together after major surgeries.

"He's depressed about it because he remembers he was somebody else," Leffler said. "He doesn't have any memories of what transpired."

Smith first hit the victim in his side with the crowbar. Thornton next was hit on his left temple; Rhode said this pushed the victim's brain to the side by 5 millimeters.

However, Holbrook's attorney said the assault left very little blood on the driveway or on the back seat when Thornton was being driven to Mercy Willard Hospital. Later, a medical helicopter flew him to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo.

Holbrook's attorney said the victim's head injury, although serious, appeared to be "an incidental blow."

"Nobody got their head smashed in. ... It was a very, very unlucky blow for everybody involved," Rhode said.

Jury selection took all of Tuesday and jurors were ushered to the crime scene Wednesday morning.

Testimony continues today.


Sitting In The ...

He had no idea his friend might be going there to assault this guy. He had nothing to do with it even though he drove him over there, evidently he was aware of the "Soap Opera Relationship" but at no time did the suspect or Mr. Rhodes client discuss anger towards the victim. Good Luck

Anonymous Enigma

How do you 'accidentally' hit someone in the head with a crow-bar? Or rather, how does ANYBODY see it as an "unlucky" blow?



Thought that myself. Maybe someone should accidentally hit Rhode in the head with a crow bar. Lawyers.


I've drove many friends to a fight before. We would go there, the 2 guys with beef would knuckle it out. The loser goes home and licks his wounds. If I take someone to go fight someone and they pick up a rock and kill the guy, how is that my fault? If they would have used knuckles, we would know who's tougher, and it would be water under the bridge. Instead, someone didn't want to risk a a$$ whooping so they used a weapon. If Tyler was holding the tire iron all the way there talkin about killing him, then he's guilty. If he took him there for a fight, than it would call them all victims except Tyler. I don't know the details of that day, buy I would hate to see this kids life ruined over something he didn't want to happen.


Get in the 21st century please. What happens if you drive someone to a bank and they rob it? DUH?????????


I guess it depends on how fast you drive away!!! DUH!!!!

I hate the 21st century! I miss the days when you could get into a fist fight to solve a problem. Now everyone turns to the law for help. Sue them, put them in jail, make them a felon, wah wah wah. Maybe America needs to grow a pair and go back to what made this country great......A good leader and faithful, loyal, hard working citizens. It's people like Deertracker that make me sick, always judgemental and holier than thou.

Anyone who says that all involved wouldn't have been better if they had gotten into a fist fight needs a helmet.


Why did the victim have to get in a fist fight? He was totally innocent in this. If anyone should have been smacked upside the head (and I am not advocating it) - it was the girls. But somehow the two rednecks in the truck almost turned it into murder. And now the innocent victim has to suffer the rest of his life for this attempt on his life.

It is the same as if you were walking down the street and two guys drove up and beat you to death. Except it was "almost".

Hey - do the crime -do the time.


Did you miss the part where the boys had heated text message and twitter conversations? I guess so.....I never said that Tyler shouldn't have gotten what he got. I said his buddy may have had No idea that the tire iron was part of the plan.


Judgmental? Holier than thou? How do you figure? Get in the 21st century. It's here, like it or not!

Gone Fishing

there Is one thing this kid has working for him, Ed Rhode is a excellent lawyer... But never mind about this story does anyone know why the Norwalk Reflector took down the article about the Plymouth story from yesterday and did not do a follow up story???


this guys buddy is obviously not in touch with reality,now I had some crazy friends when I was young and could have been drawn into something like this
and went to prison.
luckily I didn't and changed course went on to have a good life and raised 2 college grads.


I agree that yea this boy used poor judgement on driving his friend there to fight, but he most likely had no knowledge that he was going to hit him in the head with weapon and almost kill him. How is he at fault for another mans actions? You cant control what other people do. He was not a get a way driver in a robbery and there was no intent on his behalf to even take place in the misdermeanor assault, let alone a felony attempted murder. Should he get a little charge of obstruction or disorderly, probally, but attempted murder when you were a bystander at a fight that you took someone how times have changed.... this could have happened to me weekly when I was a teenager. Us boys use to fight all of the time and it could have easily got out of hand and one boy smash another one with something. I feel lucky know that no one ever got seriously hurt and at the sametime feel bad that this boys life is possably going to change for ever because of one boys stupidity. I hope the jury gets this one right.


I believe the kid got what was coming to him messing around with someone's pregnant gf. He should have done it with his hands instead of a weapon tho.

Anonymous Enigma

I'm going to add another comment, because after reading this article again, and reading other articles pertaining to this case... I'm a bit confused on something.

All we keep hearing about is how the kid got hit twice with a crowbar, or however many times. Now, if these guys were going to fight, why didn't they just knuckle up and get it on? Where exactly did the crowbar come from? Did the kid just run out to the car, grab the crowbar and commence to swinging for the fences or what? I mean, to me... that just makes no dang sense.

I'll also play devils advocate for a minute:

The kid who drove.. he knew what was going to happen. He may not have known his buddy was going to crack dude with a crowbar, but he knew something was going down. There's no way he couldn't have. It's not like his buddy called him up and was like "hey man, give me a ride. I can't tell you what we're doing, who's going to be there, or why I'm pissed, but I can tell you where we're going."

I mean, the kid knew what was going on, and what was about to go down. & in my opinion, I'd bet dollars to donuts that he knew about the crowbar.

But, there's questions that'll never get answered. At least, not in an honest, truthful way. I still want to know where the crowbar came into play though if they were about to square off. That's the biggest question I have.


Of course he knew he was taking him to fight. The question is did he know about the crowbar? If so, then he deserves to go down right beside Tyler. If he didn't know, maybe a lesser charge should be applied. I have no idea what happened, don't know any involved.