Attorneys set to argue ‘bar fight’ statement ahead of murder trial for Middletown man

Brian Ingram and attorney Frank Schiavone III were in Butler County Common Pleas Court Thursday for a pretrial hearing. Ingram's murder trial is scheduled to begin next month NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Brian Ingram and attorney Frank Schiavone III were in Butler County Common Pleas Court Thursday for a pretrial hearing. Ingram's murder trial is scheduled to begin next month NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Prosecutor says it was an attack that occurred in the bar; defense attorney says there’s a ‘real back story’ to incident.

A man accused in a fatal assault at a Middletown bar will be back in Butler County Common Pleas Court today for a final hearing before his trial that is scheduled to begin on Monday.

Brian Ingram, 52, is charged with murder and felonious assault after allegedly punching and kicking a man on Feb. 25 at Billy T’s on Tytus Avenue.

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The man Ingram allegedly assaulted, Phillip Taulbee, 56, of Middletown, died a day after the incident at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.

Ingram was indicted by a Butler County grand jury in March, and Judge Keith Spaeth set bond at $300,000. He has been incarcerated since his arrest

Police were called to Billy T’s at 8 p.m. on Feb. 25 for a bar fight. Officers found Taulbee had been severely assaulted. In a 911 call to police, a woman said a man was “knocked out” and lying in the ground.

One subject of today’s hearing is a motion filed by prosecutors about statements defense attorney Frank Schiavone III made to the Journal-News following a hearing in June.

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The defense attorney said there is a “real back story” to the incident.

“It wasn’t a random thing and the story will be told,” Schiavone said. “I can tell you one thing for sure, Brian Ingram did not intend to kill that man. Did he engage him? Absolutely, he thought it was going to be a good, old-fashioned bar fight. In no way did he ever intend to kill him.”

Prosecutors filed a motion requesting Judge Keith Spaeth to prohibit the defense from “characterizing the murder of Phillip Taulbee as a bar fight.”

According to the prosecutions motion, Ingram and Taulbee had no interaction at the bar. Ingram left the main bar area and returned with what was described as “Kevlar lined gloves,” then aggressively approached Taulbee.

“Defendant aggressively approaches the victim throws down a bar stool, strikes the victim multiple times in the head area, throws the victim to the concrete floor, stomps on the victim’s head and is pulled off the victim by other patrons. The victim, Mr. Taulbee, in no way ever fought back,” Assistant Prosecutor Dan Phillips wrote in the motion.

The motion states, what happened was not a bar fight.

“A fight has two combatants, often times by mutual consent. Here a premeditated attack occurred. Clearly calling a murder a ‘fight’ would be a false statement,” the prosecution motion states.

Police and Schiavone said there is a video of the fight which will be part of the trial.

Schiavone had no comment about the prosecution’s motion, but said he would argue it in court.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said ordinarily he is not permitted to comment on evidence before trial especially in reference to proof of guilt, but he made a exception in this case.

“Prosecutors are permitted to respond to defense attorneys who make reference to such issues and prosecutors are permitted to respond. In this case the defense attorney made a public statement in the Journal-News this was a bar fight and that is simply not true. This was an attack that occurred in a bar,” Gmoser said.

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