Man on trial for murder says Franklin stabbing was self defense

The trial of a Madeira man charged in a fatal stabbing last August at a Franklin home began Monday in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

Robert White, 40, is charged with murder and felonious assault for allegedly killing Terry Hall Jr. on Aug. 27, 2017.

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White grabbed a kitchen knife and came toward Nicole Checkawitz on Aug. 27, while she and Hall were renovating her home on Rooks Lane in Franklin, she told this news outlet shortly after the incident.

Hall stepped between them and tried to stop the argument, according to Checkawitz. White stabbed Hall to death in the kitchen, according to police.

During opening statements, defense attorney Joseph Auciello said White, who shares two children with Checkawitz, acted in self defense.

“In past confrontations, Hall had gotten the best of Mr. White,” the defense attorney said.

Defense attorneys painted a different account than Checkawitz's about what happened on the night of Aug. 27.

It was Hall, according to defense attorneys, who broke through the door of Checkawitz's residence while White was asleep on the couch.

“He (White) was startled from his slumber then backed into a corner (of the kitchen) by Hall,” Auciello said. “And he reaches around for a defense mechanism and pulls out a knife and stabs Mr. Hall in self defense."

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But prosecutors hammered home that Hall was stabbed multiple times, including a “gaping hole” in his neck.

“This not a who-done-it,” said Assistant Warren County Prosecutor Karl Harris during opening statements.

Harris said White had no injuries when arrested. He was found by the first officer at the scene standing in the yard with his hand up.

Franklin Officer Amanda Myers said White was “calm and compliant.” She said he was covered in blood.

Hall was in the kitchen in a pool of blood, Myers said.

“He did not appear to be breathing,” she said.

In a 911 call played for the jury, Checkawitz is heard screaming and crying

“Oh my God, Robert White did it. He is outside with his hands up,” she said in the 911 call.

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Prosecutors filed a motion to have Checkawitz called as a court’s witness, rather than a witness for the prosecution.

“We are unsure of what her testimony would be,” Warren County Assistant Prosecutor Derek Faulkner said. “The proper way to obtain the truth is to have her called as a court’s witness.”

Faulkner said prosecutors also had difficulty making contact with Checkawitz until going to visit her last week.

White’s defense attorneys opposed the motion.

“I think the issue is not whether or not she is going to testify in this case. It is whether or not she is going to testify favorably for the state in this case. And I believe the answer to that is no,” Auciello said.

Warren County Judge Timothy Tepe denied the prosecution’s request, stating he has no reason to believe Checkawitz’s testimony will not be truthful. He added that there is a taped statement from Checkawitz if her testimony differs.

The trial is scheduled to continue all week.

White has been held in the Warren County Jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond since the stabbing.

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