A verdict has been reached in the Timothy Paul Schaeffer trial, despite a rough start to day two of testimony Thursday. Sheridan Media's Mary Jo Johnson has the story.
Schaeffer was to take the stand at 9 o'clock Thursday morning, but prior to the jury entering the courtroom, the defendant had an outburst which forced Judge John Fenn to have him physically removed. Court recessed until Thursday afternoon.
At 1 pm, Judge Fenn first had to determine the safest means to have Schaeffer testify. The Jury was brought in, and Schaeffer began his testimony. He provided a litany of medical and physical problems, and claimed that the fellow poker players knew about his injuries and had seen him use a cane in the past. He said he was a disabled veteran from time in the Army and Merchant Marines. He said that it was Brian “Beaver” Legerski that started the fight at Willey's Lounge on the morning of October 24, 2009, and that yes, he did hit Legerski first as an offensive move to protect himself.
Schaeffer denied threatening anyone with the gun, and in fact said when he heard one of the players shout, “he's got a gun!”, he calmly told them it was a flare gun and wouldn't hurt anyone. Schaeffer's attorney, Robert Jones, claimed that the flare gun should not be considered a deadly weapon. Schaeffer also denied using the taser on Legerski, instead claiming he only clicked it at him by his face. And he denied being intoxicated, but that he was “punch drunk” from Legerski hitting him so many times.
Prosecutor Dianna Bennett countered by showing I-camera video of the police interaction with Schaeffer in which the jury could clearly hear Officer Jim Arzy say that Schaeffer had blown a breath test BAC of “.110 with very small breaths.”
Closing arguments started at about 4 pm. Bennett told the jury that while the perceptions of the witnesses may have varied a bit as to who initially started the fight, all witness testimony was consistent that Schaeffer had pulled out a gun, had threatened all of them with it, and had pointed it directly at one of the players. Also, she said that the circumstances and fights and pictures of Schaeffer's and Legerski's injuries should not muddle the fact that the sole issue was that the gun, which was proven to be able to fire a projectile that could potentially injure or even kill someone, had been used.
Jones closed saying that the picture of Schaeffer and his injuries should tell the story, and that he didn't look like an aggressor. Jones added that the card players were all trying to protect Spencer Willey from losing his liquor license, and therefore were covering up the truth of how events transpired.
Having the last word, Bennett reminded the jury that Willey was completely sober on the 9-1-1 call, while Schaeffer, who had brought his own vodka and beers to the game, had a BAC of .110. She also said, “If this is a cover-up, why wouldn't the witnesses have exactly the same testimony?”
The jury went into deliberations at 4:48 pm; they came back with the verdict at 6:10 pm. Schaeffer was found to be guilty of Aggravated Assault and Battery.
Sentencing will take place later this summer.