O’Neal innocent of malicious assault [The Dominion Post]
by Hope Katz Gibbs
Fairmont Bureau Chief
The Dominion Post
FAIRMONT—An 18-year-old Fairmont man was found innocent Thursday on charges he allegedly slashed a police officer’s hand and threatened his stepfather with two butcher knives on Oct. 1.
Anthony O’Neal, of 348 Yodie Ave., was initially charged by the state with a misdemeanor of attempted malicious assault and assault during an attempt to commit a felony.
Four police officers testified for the prosecution Wednesday, the first day of the trial, accusing O’Neal of being “very angry” and intending to kill his stepfather Garfield Singleton with the knives on the basement steps at his house. They testified he also intended to cut Fairmont City Police Det. Steve Cain.
According to O’Neal’s testimony, he picked up the knives as a means of getting his mother’s attention because he was jealous of the affection she had been lavishing on Singleton.
In closing statements, assistant prosecuting attorney Pat Wilson told the jury, “It’s not a crime to be angry, but the law sets limits on how someone can elicit that anger.”
Defense attorney Greg Hinton said he was not asking the jury to determine what right or wrong was committed, rather it was their duty to determine if O’Neal had committed the crimes he was charged with.
“‘The key words here are hesitate and intent, the key location was the steps, and the key incident was the last phone call O’Neal received from his girlfriend,” Hinton said. “Had O’Neal wanted to get to Singleton he could have used the butcher knives to cut through the human barrier police had set up.”
Hinton argued further that O’Neal took a telephone call from his girlfriend and began crying during his rage—evidence he did not intend to harm anyone.