Prosecutor: Man accused of killing neighbor previously stabbed father, substantial bond is needed

911 caller tells dispatcher Okeana shooter thought victim ‘was a Democrat.’

Prosecutors say a Morgan Twp. man accused of shooting and killing his neighbor in Okeana admitted being violent in the past when he stabbed his father in 2017.

That past history, coupled with Austin Combs’ admission to the Nov. 5 homicide and psychological issues that has placed him on suicide watch make for a unsafe scenario and “should be considered be considered when setting a substantially high bond on this individual,” according to Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Katie Pridemore.

Combs, 26, was booked into the Butler County Jail just hours after the fatal shooting, and he was charged with murder. Earlier this month, a Butler County grand jury returned an indictment the upped the charge against Combs to aggravated murder with a gun specification.

Anthony Lee King, 43, died of multiple gunshot wounds and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office.

Combs was ordered held in the Butler County Jail without bond by Butler County Common Pleas Judge Michael Oster Jr.

ExploreMan killed in Okeana shooting identified, bond set for suspect

Defense attorney Christopher Pagan filing a written motion addressing bond last week, stating the defendant lives with his father and grandmother who help him “care for his physical and psychological needs.”

Combs has been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and is in pain, the motion states. He has been “plagued” by the condition while in jail and has lost weight, according to the court document.

The attorneys say Combs is a lifelong resident of Butler County and a 2014 graduate of Ross High School who has no criminal record.

“There is no evidence he is a flight risk,” Pagan wrote in the motion. “Austin suggests that a financial bond with GPS monitoring or home arrest would prove adequate public protection, while protecting his presumption of innocence and permitting him to aid his defense and continue his care.”

Pridemore stated in court documents filed Monday that while Combs was not convicted of assault on his father, he admitted to the incident during questioning with police, and his father corroborated.

“While is it is true that it does not appear that Combs is on probation or any form of supervision, there is evidence that Combs has been violent with a deadly weapon in the past,” Pridemore said in the response to the defense request for bond. “Although not convicted, Combs did admit in his interview to law enforcement to stabbing his father in the stomach in 2017. Combs’ father corroborated this stabbing by stating in his interview that Combs stabbed him because he didn’t like the woman the father was seeing at the same time. The father is the same person Combs wants to live with if released on bond in this case.”

The weight of evidence against Combs is “incredibly strong” and should be considered when setting bond, Pridemore said. She pointed out Combs confessed to the fatal shooting and told investigators where to find the weapon. It was located where he said it would be found when searching his residence.

Combs was caught on a Ring camera walking toward King, who was sawing down branches in his own yard. Moments later, the victim was shot in the head and chest. King’s wife and son heard the shots and saw Combs walking away, according to court documents.

Pridemore said Combs’ suicidal watch at the jail is an argument to set a substantial bond.

“(I) can think of no greater flight risk than committing suicide to avoid the prosecution of aggravated murder that one confessed to,” Pridemore said. “In order to prevent Combs from harming himself by committing suicide and/or fleeing, a substantial bond should be set in this case.”

Oster indicated he would issue a formal ruling on bond by Thursday.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Combs is scheduled to be back in court Dec. 19 for a pre-trial hearing.

According to sheriff’s office investigators, Combs admitted to shooting King in the yard of his Chapel Road residence “several times with a revolver.”

Family members called 911 after hearing shots and finding King in the backyard unresponsive and bleeding. A family member told the dispatcher a neighbor had confronted King before about perceived political affiliation.

“My neighbor just shot my dad,” a male tells dispatchers.

The suspect, “just walked back onto his property,” he tells the dispatcher.

The caller’s mother was sobbing in the background, and the dispatcher told them to stay inside and keep the doors locked.

The victim’s wife then told the dispatcher they were cutting grass and working in the yard when she came inside to let the dog out. That’s when she heard gunshots, she said.

“I look in the backyard and that man is walking away from my husband, and my husband is on the ground,” the woman said. “He has come over like four times confronting my husband because he thought he was a Democrat. Why, why … Please, I don’t understand.”

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