A video showing Lance Tiernan violently attacking another juvenile, throwing him so hard his head bounced off the floor at a local group home, was shown to jurors Tuesday during the first day of his murder trial.
Tiernan of Lebanon is on trial in Butler County Common Pleas Court, charged as an adult for allegedly beating 16-year-old Anthony Parker so viciously in the head he fractured his skull and caused a fatal brain bleed last December at the One Way Farm group home in Fairfield Twp. He turned 18 in May.
The jury of seven women and five men were given details about the incident from the prosecution first and watched a video in real time, then in slow motion and again in real time.
Defense attorney Charlie Rittgers told the jury during opening statements that his client — whose mother abandoned him when he was 12 — was upset that day when others at the home were talking about getting to be with their families for the holidays. He said Parker told him “no one cares” after Tiernan mentioned not having anyone to visit.
When a disagreement over ownership of a flash light began in the family room, Rittgers said Tiernan insinuated himself in the discussion and Parker allegedly replied “go (expletive) yourself and go (expletive) your mother.
The six-foot-five 215 pound Tiernan can be seen on the tape lunging at Parker who was seated on the floor. He punched him hard in the head and when the boy tried to scramble away, Tiernan grabbed the much smaller boy around the waist and slammed him head first onto the floor. Tiernan punched Parker once more before two female employees pulled him away and sent him out of the room.
Another worker is seen standing over Parker, not offering any assistance, after he slowly pulled himself up on a couch arm. After a couple seconds, the worker steps over Parker’s bent legs, leaves the room and the tape goes blank.
According to police, the two teens were together peacefully eating snacks in the kitchen later. Employees found Parker unresponsive on a bathroom floor about three hours after the altercation. Police and an ambulance were summoned. Parker died at Children’s Medical Center Hospital in Cincinnati nine days later due to his head injuries. Prosecutors maintain Tiernan “knowingly” caused serious physical harm to Parker, which proves murder.
“We’re going to ask that you find this defendant guilty of murder,” Assistant Prosecutor Brad Burress said during opening statements. “Not because he purposefully killed him, but because he knowingly caused serious physical harm that caused Anthony Parker to die. It’s nothing more, but certainly nothing less.”
The defense said it wants to convince the jury Tiernan’s crime amounted only to reckless homicide or involuntary manslaughter.
“Usually when teenagers get in a fight, the unexpected and tragic death does not occur. If it does occur, it’s involuntary manslaughter,” Rittgers told the jury. “This is not a felonious assault and it’s not murder.”
The trial resumes Wednesday with coroner’s testimony and possibly one more prosecution witness. Rittgers said Tiernan will take the stand and they plan to call about three witnesses and show a videotaped deposition.
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