By Carol McIntire
Carroll County Prosecuting Attorney Steven Barnett said the murder trial of Kenneth Blanchard is not a case of “who done it by any means because Blanchard admitted he shot a man.”
Defense Attorney Jeff Jakmides said it’s a case of self-defense.
The attorneys made the statements Wednesday morning during opening statements of the Blanchard trial in Carroll County Common Pleas Court. Blanchard is charged with murder in the death of Michael Fairchild Aug. 31, 2016.
Barnett said the evidence will show Blanchard and Fairchild were not strangers. “In fact, Fairchild is the father of the defendant’s grandchild,” he said.
The prosecutor provided a timeline of the events of Aug. 31 for the 12-member jury comprised of four men and eight women, saying the Minerva Police Department received a call from a neighbor of the 323 Valley St., Minerva, mobile home where the shooting occurred. Within 30 seconds, he said officer Dan Griffiths was on the scene where he was met by a hysterical female who told him, “He shot someone inside.”
“Officer Griffiths saw a male at the back door, but could only see his right side,” Barnett continued. “As Griffiths was taking care of the female, Sgt. William Haines arrived at the scene and saw Kenneth Blanchard trying to come down a ladder at the back door. Haines saw the handle of pistol in Blanchard’s pocket and secured the weapon. Mr. Blanchard admitted he shot someone.”
He told the jury they will hear things about Fairchild – needles and syringes, tracks on is arms from needles and that he had opioids in his system at the time of his death – that would make them not like him.
But he’s not on trial here,” Barnett said, asking he jury to return a verdict that Blanchard shot and killed Fairchild.
Jakmides told the jury the state must prove Blanchard shot Fairchild with intent to cause his death.
He introduced the jury to Blanchard, saying he is a 69-year-old man with no criminal record who spent over 50 years in retail and repair business in the Minerva community.
“He is a respected member of the community,” he said.
“Blanchard is not in good health,” he said. “Two weeks before Aug. 31, he had a pacemaker put in his chest. He has Type 2 diabetes, a history of blood clots and high cholesterol,” he said, adding his eyesight has been affected by macular degeneration.
Jakmides laid the framework for the events leading up to Aug. 31, saying Blanchard has five rentals, including the trailer where the shooting occurred.
“When he inspects his vacant properties he takes a firearm,” Jakmides said. “He has never used it in 30 years.”
The defense attorney said Blanchard and others were at the property Aug. 30 to mow the yard and secured the property because his daughter, who lived there, was in jail for violating her probation on a drug charge and no one else had permission to be in the trailer.
Jakmides said Blanchard drove by the residence earlier in the day Aug. 31 and noticed the back door open. He and his wife, Nancy and grandson, who were planning to drive to the Carroll County jail to visit their daughter, stopped at the trailer to check for intruders before driving to Carrollton. As he was checking a bedroom, Jakmides said Fairchild lunged at him and Blanchard shot him.
He called Blanchard’s first words to police, “I shot someone,” very important, adding the law on self defense gives a great deal of protection to those defending themselves.
“The state has to prove he had intent to kill,” Jakmides said, and I submit to you that Fairchild did not want to be caught. He was trespassing and engaging in illegal activities.”
The jury heard from five prosecution witness during the day – Officer Griffiths, Sgt. Haines, Kimberly Kern, Morgan Kreitzer and Special Agent Larry Hootman.
Both Griffith and Haines testified to what they witnessed at the scene. Body Camera footage recorded during the event was played for the jury and Haines’ recorded interview with Blanchard in the Carroll County Jail following his arrest was projected on the wall for the jury to view.
Kern, a dispatcher for Minerva PD, testified about the call she received from a neighbor of the Valley St. residence who told her she heard there shots and then heard another one. She said she heard three pops she believed could have been gunshots, and then heard another one.
She testified a call came into the PD on the administrative line from a man who asked for Charles Kopp, an officer who was not on duty. She placed the call on hold, deeming in not to be an emergency, as she was dispatching units to the Valley St. address. When she returned to the call, the caller was not on the line. “He did not identify himself or say it was an emergency,” she said.
On cross examination, Jakmides asked Kern how she could have heard the shots after the caller said she heard them.
Kreitzer, who lives next door, testified she heard muffled voices from her bedroom on the second floor of her home next door and heard a hand hit the trailer, which mad a distinct sound. She also heard three pops she said sounded like firecrackers.
She said when she initially looked outside, she didn’t see anyone because they were inside the trailer, adding she saw Nancy (Blanchard) come outside and the defendant (Blanchard) walk to the back door, close the door and open it again.
Hootman, a special agent with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), who collected evidence at the scene, identified a series of photographs and testified to the location of wounds on the victim (two in the chest, two on the upper forearm and an exit would on the back), four shell casings and reddish brown stains on the bed and pillows. He said the brownish red stains were location on the head of the bed on the outside of the bed by the wall, below the head and at the foot of the bed. Relying on his training in bloodstaining, he testified he believed the reddish brown stains arrived on the bed though transfer, or when blood from an item touches the surface of another item.
He testified one shell casing was found on the floor under a comforter, which was under the leg of he deceased.
On cross examination, Jakmides inquired about the condition of the home, asking repeatedly if it was “extremely cluttered”, about the close quarters and how many people were inside the home during the evening and if evidence could have been moved prior to his arrival. Hootman called the home “cluttered” and said he was not present at the time EMTs were in the home and did not know if evidence was moved.When asked by Jakmides if there were bullet hole in the bed or blanketing, Hootman replied, “No.”
The trial is scheduled to resume this morning at 8:30 a.m.