By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT
A deputy coroner, a police officer and two friends of the victim testified Wednesday in a negligent homicide case in Findlay Municipal Court.
Michael J. Jones, 25, is charged with a first-degree misdemeanor in the fatal stabbing of 19-year-old Tyler Wilson on College Street on July 25, 2018.
What happened was “not that complicated,” Prosecutor Robert Feighner Jr. said in his opening statement.
Feighner is prosecuting the case with Elliott Werth. Both are assistant law directors for the city.
Feighner said Jones armed himself with a knife before a fight with Wilson, who did not have a weapon.
Evidence won’t show “any good reason” for Jones stabbing Wilson, Feighner said.
Jones’ lawyer, Todd Mosley, said in his opening statement that his client tried to retreat before pulling the knife, and clearly told his “multiple attackers” that he had the weapon.
He acted in self-defense after a confrontation with one man — not Wilson — escalated. That man yelled for Wilson to join him, Mosley said. Jones started walking back to his house at that point.
Wilson ran up to Jones, who then noticed a third man in the area, Mosley said.
Jones retreated out of fear of being beaten up. With “no other option,” he pulled out the knife and told the group he wasn’t afraid to use it, Mosley said.
They could have walked away, Mosley said, but they chose not to.
“Mr. Wilson chose revenge and violence over safety and going home,” he said.
Dr. Jeffrey Hudson, a Lucas County deputy coroner, testified that Wilson died of a stab wound to the left side of his chest. The weapon was “likely a single-blade knife.”
Wilson’s left lung, heart and a valve in his pulmonary artery were damaged, Hudson said.
Werth showed Hudson a knife, and Hudson confirmed that it appeared to be the same knife he was shown at the autopsy, and that it was “consistent” with Wilson’s wound.
During cross-examination by Mosley, Hudson said Wilson had one stab wound, and no slash wounds.
It wouldn’t surprise him, Hudson said, that Wilson bled internally and did not leave a lot of blood on the ground.
Skyler Baumunk, then 18, lived on College Street at the time, as did Wilson, whom he described as “like a brother to me.”
Baumunk testified that he has engaged in “trash talking” before with Jones, a College Street neighbor who he “really didn’t have a relationship” with.
Baumunk said he and Zachary Rabinowitz, another friend, were at Wilson’s house on July 25, 2018, and then Baumunk left to check on his grandmother — also a College Street resident — who had recently been in the hospital.
Baumunk testified that Jones threatened that he would beat up Baumunk if he touched Jones’ car. Baumunk said he was in his grandmother’s driveway when this threat was made, and later he was on the sidewalk.
“We ended up getting into an altercation in the road,” he testified, and said Jones hit Baumunk in the face multiple times.
He returned to Wilson’s house, told Wilson what happened, and the two went back toward Jones’ house.
Jones and Wilson were then “talking s— to each other,” Baumunk said.
Jones went inside his house, returned outside, “and from there, Mr. Wilson was stabbed,” Baumunk said.
Wilson tried to go back to his house, but fell in the road, Baumunk testified.
Mosley asked Baumunk if he had asked Jones to come outside to fight, and Baumunk said he hadn’t. “You never told him to come down here and let’s talk like men?” Mosley said.
Baumunk agreed that he’d said that, but that it didn’t mean fighting — it meant talking.
Rabinowitz, who was 17 at the time, said Wilson “was my best friend” and testified that he hardly knows Jones.
Rabinowitz testified that he was at Wilson’s house with Baumunk on July 25, 2018. Rabinowitz said Wilson gave him some clothing to try on, in preparation for a new job.
Baumunk left to go check on his grandmother, Rabinowitz said, and then “we heard yelling outside.”
Wilson went outside first, and Rabinowitz also went toward Jones’ house after he finished changing, he said.
Jones was saying, “I’m gonna f—ing stab you,” Rabinowitz said.
Rabinowitz testified that Wilson “put his hands up” as Jones was “swinging his hand around wildly.”
“It all happened quick,” Rabinowitz said. Wilson turned to Rabinowitz and said, “I just got stabbed,” while Jones ran back toward his house.
Rabinowitz said he went back to Wilson’s house to get Tyler’s mother and his own phone.
Rabinowitz and Baumunk both testified that Wilson did not have a weapon, nor did he regularly carry one. They weren’t armed either, they said.
Donald Dawson, a Findlay police officer, testified that he arrived at the scene to find Wilson in the street. Wilson was pale with a weak pulse, and had “gasping respiration.”
Rabinowitz was there, in a “nervous” or “fight or flight” state, Dawson said. Baumunk was crying, he said.
Dawson said he had no contact with Jones.
The trial will resume today. Judge Alan Hackenberg is presiding. There are 10 jurors, two of whom are alternates but will not know it until deliberation.
The jury was taken to see the scene of the stabbing on Wednesday, after opening statements were made.