Thursday, June 06, 2002

Death-by-bleach case up to jury




By Marie McCain, mmccain@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Jurors began deliberating shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday in the trial of a 15-year-old Avondale girl accused of killing her father.

        Deliberations ended at 8:40 p.m. and will resume at 9 a.m. today.

        In closing arguments, defense attorneys urged jurors to put themselves in the teen's place and realize that she did not intend for her father to die.

        Rather, her attorneys said, the girl only wanted to get away from him.

        “What happened was an accident,” said David Montgomery, an assistant Hamilton County public defender.

        The teen, who was 14 at the time of the Jan. 28 incident, is charged as a juvenile with one count each of involuntary manslaughter and felonious assault in the death of her father, Archie Dale Hall.

        Prosecutors contend the girl intentionally threw bleach on her father during an argument over the girl's 17-year-old boyfriend.

        “How do you throw bleach into someone's face and not mean to cause them harm?” asked Heidi Selden, an assistant Hamilton County prosecutor.

        On Wednesday, the defense presented George Nichols, a Louisville pathologist, who reviewed medical records and autopsy records relating to Mr. Hall's death.

        The doctor contradicted earlier testimony from a Hamilton County coroner that cited bleach inhalation as one of the contributing causes of death.

        He agreed with earlier findings that Mr. Hall died of breathing problems, but could not say what triggered those problems. He said there is no evidence that fumes from bleach alone are deadly.

        Prosecutors tried to impeach Dr. Nichols' testimony by bringing up a 1984 case. In that case, the doctor misidentified the type of gun used in a homicide.

        Officials believe Mr. Hall, 39, ingested the fluid, which triggered the respiratory problems that led to his death. Witnesses testified Mr. Hall was intoxicated at the time of the incident.

        He died in February, three weeks after the incident.

        The girl's boyfriend, Gregory Douglas, is being charged as an adult with aggravated assault. He allegedly put the older man in a headlock after he had been doused with bleach.

        This is the first juvenile jury trial in Ohio. If convicted the girl could be detained in an adult prison well beyond her 21st birthday.

       



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