Trial postponed for man charged with Monroe stabbing death

A trial for a Monroe man who is accused of stabbing his roommate to death in May has been postponed due to coronavirus concerns.

Peyton Michael Joseph McFarland, 21, was arrested on May 31, a day after the homicide, and charged with murder. McFarland was later indicted for murder and felonious assault in the slaying of Christopher Hacker, 31.

McFarland’s trial was scheduled to begin Monday in Butler County Common Pleas Court, but it has been continued at the request of the defense.

Last month, attorney Frank Schiavone IV filed at motion for a continuance that noted a high incidence of coronavirus cases in the ZIP code where the trial would take place. Schiavone also noted not all discovery has been exchanged in the case.

Judge Jennifer McElfresh granted the continuance. A new trial date had not been set as of Monday, but McFarland is scheduled to be back in court Thursday for a hearing. He is being held in the Butler County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond.

According to court records and the 911 call, McFarland confessed to stabbing Hacker during an argument. Schiavone IV said evidence expected to be presented a trial includes a self-defense expert and testimony about the drugs Hacker had in his system at the time of death.

“The alleged victim tested positive for drugs of abuse,” said Schiavone, who added it is a case of self-defense.

In the 911 call, McFarland identifies himself to the dispatcher in a strained, out-of-breath voice.

“I need an ambulance,” he says in the call. “I attacked a person that I was living with, I need an officer to come and arrest me.”

In the 911 calls, McFarland says he used a weapon and stabbed Hacker in the shoulder. Hacker ran from the scene, according to McFarland, who told dispatchers he put the weapon on the ground outside and said he would lie down and wait for officers.

A woman called 911 from a neighboring residence and told dispatchers a man approached her and said that “he has been stabbed with a knife, he is bleeding. He needs an ambulance.”

Hacker was taken to Atrium Medical Center, where he died.

Monroe police said McFarland told investigators he went into his room and retrieved a knife/axe combination weapon, then confronted Hacker in the hallway.

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