Wheelersburg, OH – September 26, 2012 – Just two months after a father and son’s botched attempt to repossess of a lawnmower ended with the borrower being shot and killed, a Grand Jury was unable to find enough guilty verdicts to return an indictment.
“The grand jury did not have enough votes to return an indictment. In Ohio there’s nine members of the grand jury and it takes seven of those members to find an indictment.” Lamented Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn.
Kuhn said the grand jury heard from eight witnesses, reviewed a large number of photographs taken at the scene the night that it happened and all of the evidence collected by the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office including phone calls and financial records regarding the equipment in question.
“On this case they (grand jury) spent approximately six and a half hours hearing testimony, reviewing records and documents, and deliberating,” Kuhn reported. “That is about the longest that a grand jury has spent in the eight years that I have been the prosecutor. It wasn’t a decision they reached lightly. It was one they spent a lot of time on.”
Kuhn said neither side of the confrontation acted in the manner they should have, given the circumstances.
“I certainly wouldn’t view this as an endorsement of how the Stakers acted up there in trying to recover this lawnmower. In the same sense it’s not an endorsement of the way the homeowner came out acting with a gun, sort of escalating that either. Because of that, it’s a case that, as a prosecutor, you would have liked to have something else to show a grand jury one way or the other. It was the kind of case that lent itself to people looking at the facts and having a difficulty making a decision.” Said Kuhn.
The first people Kuhn reportedly notified when he saw the outcome of the grand jury were Holsinger’s family members. “They are really good people and they are having a hard time right now,” Kuhn said.
“The easy thing for both sides to have done in this case was to call the sheriff,” Kuhn said. “It’s Porter Township. We’ve got township deputies around the clock. The easy thing for either side to have done would have been to call the sheriff. When Steve Holsinger was finally told by a neighbor that they were going to call the sheriff. That’s sort of what prompts him to go out with a gun. That should have been the time to say, ‘yes, get the sheriff here.’ or if those fellows are entitled to their mower, to go and get a court order. It’s not that hard.”
The incident occurred on July 13, 2012 when deputies found the victim, 33-year-old Steve Holsinger, of Wheelersburg lying in the yard of his residence.
According to the sheriff’s department release at the time, Tyler Staker, 22, of Portsmouth, and his father had gone to Holsinger’s residence to repossess a lawnmower that Holsinger bought from their store, Staker’s Sales and Service.
Police report that the father and son were at the residence for about an hour, knocking on doors in an effort to get Holsinger to return the lawnmower.
At approximately 10:20 p.m., Holsinger came out of his house with a gun in his hand and was acting very upset, according to the statement.
Witnesses told police that Holsinger had put the gun in his pocket for a time, then pulled the gun out and told Staker and his father they had three seconds to get off of his property until finally Holsinger raised the gun and pointed it at Staker’s face.
It was then that Staker reportedly drew his own gun and shot Holsinger several times.
There are conflicting reports on whether or not Staker was not arrested, but deputies reportedly followed protocol and called Kuhn, asking for his advice. He did not advise them to make an arrest at that time.
Holsinger was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.