Cuyahoga Falls man claims self-defense in his attempted murder trial case in Stark County Common Pleas Court. A jury will decide the fate of Robert W. Petrone.
Robert W. Petrone acknowledged he had chances to reverse his fate and not confront Kevin Ciptak.
Several times, he said, he almost opted not to follow the 46-year-old landscaper to a tree farm in Jackson Township. But Petrone said he could not shake a nagging thought.
“I got to talk to him,” Petrone told jurors Tuesday from the stand during the second day of his trial in Stark County Common Pleas Court.
Petrone said when he got a chance on Sept. 19, he ended up firing his gun in self-defense while trying to scare Ciptak away.
“I was afraid,” he said.
Petrone wrapped up trial testimony before Judge Lee Sinclair. The jury was to resume deliberations this morning.
Petrone, 46, of Cuyahoga Falls is charged with attempted murder and felonious assault. Both charges have gun specifications. The most serious offense carries a potential penalty of up to 13 years in prison.
County prosecutors say Petrone hunted Ciptak from Cuyahoga Falls to the tree farm in the 8700 block of Strausser Street NW in Jackson Township before confronting him, shooting him and fleeing the state.
Petrone testified that he wanted to discuss Ciptak’s alleged relationship with his estranged wife, Sue Petrone.
He does not dispute that he shot Ciptak, but he said that he was reacting to Ciptak’s actions. He said Ciptak got out of his truck, yelled obscenities and later reached into Petrone’s truck.
Petrone said he grabbed his .357 Magnum revolver and fired three shots at Ciptak. He then fled.
“I thought he was fine. I wasn’t aiming at him. I was just trying to scare him away,” he told jurors.
“I didn’t think I hit him. I felt like my soul left my body.”
Ciptak was shot in the right hand, left arm and the torso. He survived and testified Monday that he was shot without ever hearing a word from Petrone.
Stark County Assistant Prosecutor Chryssa Hartnett challenged Petrone’s self-defense claims, questioning why he followed Ciptak that distance and why he used violence when Ciptak was hurling only swear words.
She told jurors in closing arguments that Petrone’s actions don’t qualify as self-defense under Ohio law.
Earlier in the day, Michael Short, a firearm specialist for the Canton-Stark Crime Lab, testified that marks on Ciptak’s clothes indicated that he was shot in the back.
Ciptak would have been at least seven feet away when he was shot due to a lack of gunpowder residue on his clothes, Short said.