Friday, March 19, 2004

Trustee not guilty of gun charge



By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - When Deerfield Township trustee Lee Speidel confronted cable workers near his 70-acre farm Jan. 12, he did not violate the law against carrying a concealed weapon, a jury decided Thursday evening.

The eight-member panel found him not guilty of the misdemeanor charge after a daylong trial in Mason Municipal Court. Jurors deliberated for about 45 minutes.

"I knew all along I was entirely within the law and entirely within my rights," Speidel said after the verdict. "The charge was completely frivolous."

Ervin Cable Construction workers Steve Maynor and Paul W. Maynor Jr. testified they were laying cable in the public right-of-way near Speidel's Kings Mills Road property when Speidel approached them. Speidel said in court Thursday he thought the workers were hunters trespassing on his property, so he had put a pistol in a holster belt before leaving the house in case he needed it for defensive purposes.

The two workers, who are brothers, said Speidel got agitated and pushed Steve back. "I took myself to be in danger of immediate attack," said Speidel.

He then stepped back, pulled back his tan coat and put his hand on the handle of the pistol. It wasn't until that time, the Maynor brothers testified, that they knew he was armed.

"I thought he was gonna pull the gun and shoot us," Steve Maynor said. "He was mad."

Speidel never pulled the weapon out of the holster. His attorney, John Smith, argued the front of the belt and holster were visible the whole time. Speidel put on the coat to show the jury how the front panels of the coat hung to the side.

But the cable workers and Warren County Sheriff's Deputy Jeff Pyfrin had testified the coat panels were hanging close together on Jan. 12 and that the holster was not visible.

"We presented evidence from three witnesses that it was concealed," said Mason Prosecutor Robert Peeler. Peeler contended during his closing statements that Speidel was acting like "too much of a cowboy" Jan. 12 and had made a mistake when he threw his coat over the pistol.

E-mail esolvig@enquirer.com




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