FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. CR-2017-04-1153
JEFFREY N. JAMES, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and JACQUENETTE S. CORGAN,
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
William Knight appeals his convictions from the Summit County
Court of Common Pleas. This Court affirms.
This appeal involves the shooting death of a man who tried to
sell a stolen dirt bike on Facebook. While the trial-court
record in this matter is voluminous, including testimony from
over a dozen witnesses, we will limit our recitation of the
facts to those that are relevant to the arguments presented.
There was no dispute at trial that Mr. Knight shot and killed
the victim in this matter. About a year prior to the
shooting, Mr. Knight's son-in-law, Curtis, had a dirt
bike stolen from his garage. On the day of the shooting,
Curtis saw the dirt bike posted for sale on Facebook by a man
named Justin. Justin did not have possession the bike, but
posted it for sale at the request of his friend, Keith, who
is the victim in this matter. Pretending to be an interested
buyer, Curtis tried to contact Justin through Facebook to no
avail. Curtis then asked a friend to contact Justin. When his
friend was successful, Curtis - acting like his friend -
arranged to meet Justin that evening.
Curtis and Justin met at one location, but eventually drove
to a second nearby location where Keith and the dirt bike
were located. The second location was on the street in front
of Keith's uncle's house, which was a dead-end
street. When Curtis and Justin arrived, Keith started the
dirt bike and drove it up and down the street at least once.
Curtis continued to pretend to be an interested buyer until
he was able to confirm that it was, in fact, his dirt bike.
After inspecting the dirt bike, Curtis produced the title and
told Keith that the bike was his. With Keith still sitting on
the dirt bike, an argument ensued. Curtis told Keith that he
wanted the bike back, and Keith - who apparently did not
steal the dirt bike but knew it had been stolen - was
unwilling to give it to Curtis without at least some payment.
Meanwhile, Mr. Knight and his daughter, Michelle
(Curtis's wife), arrived on the scene. Michelle called
911 and was explaining the situation when the argument
escalated. At that time, Keith was still on the dirt bike,
and Curtis had his hands on the handlebars, preventing Keith
from riding away.
While the foregoing facts were generally undisputed at trial,
what happened next varied between the witnesses. Generally,
though, it was undisputed that the dirt bike's engine
revved and that Mr. Knight fired a shot into the air,
allegedly trying to de-escalate the situation. Keith then
maneuvered the dirt bike away from Curtis, rode a short
distance toward the non-dead-end side of the street, struck a
parked car, fell onto the street but managed to stay on the
dirt bike, and then turned - or was turned by virtue of the
collision - back toward Curtis, Mr. Knight, and Michelle
(i.e., toward the dead-end side of the street). The dirt bike
then did a "wheelie[, ]" at which point Mr. Knight
fired a second shot, striking Keith in the head and killing
him. Almost immediately afterward, Mr. Knight approached
Michelle (who was still on the phone with the 911 operator),
took her cell phone, identified himself, and explained to the
operator that he shot Keith because he had no choice; Keith
was trying to run into his daughter, his son-in-law, and him.
Police arrived at the scene shortly thereafter and arrested
Mr. Knight. A grand jury indicted him on one count of murder
in violation of Revised Code Section 2903.02(A), one count of
murder in violation of Section 2903.02(B), one count of
felonious assault in violation of 2903.11(A)(1), and one
count of felonious assault in violation of Section
2903.11(A)(2), all with accompanying firearm specifications.
Mr. Knight pleaded not guilty, and the matter proceeded to a
At trial, Mr. Knight argued that he acted in self-defense
and/or in defense of others, that is, in defense of Curtis
and Michelle. The jury returned a verdict of guilty on all
counts, and the trial court sentenced Mr. Knight to a total
of 18 years of ...