Verdicts disputed in Highland County home invasion jury trial


A jury trial in Highland County Common Pleas Court ended Monday with a guilty verdict on one of two high-level felony charges against a Frankfort man in a home invasion case, but there is some dispute as to whether a not-guilty verdict on the second charge nullifies the guilty verdict in the first.

After deliberating for less than an hour, a jury found Joel E. Williams, 51, guilty of aggravated burglary, a first-degree felony, and not guilty of felonious assault, a second degree felony. But once the jury was dismissed, attorney Kathryn Hapner, representing Williams, requested the judge dismiss Williams’ first charge on a technicality.

Hapner argued that in order to have a legitimate guilty verdict on the burglary charge, the jury would have to find that the defendant entered the home with intent to cause injury with a deadly weapon — and the jury found there was not sufficient evidence indicating he had a deadly weapon.

Highland County Prosecuting Attorney Anneka Collins argued that the jury only had to find that Williams entered the home with intent to cause injury, regardless of whether or not he had a deadly weapon.

Since the matter is disputable, Judge Rocky Coss requested the prosecution and defense submit briefs to him further explaining their arguments. The judge said he will make a ruling on the matter at a hearing on Monday.

Until then, Williams will remain in the county jail with no bond.

The female victim in the case, who lives on Fisherman Wharf Road in Hillsboro, testified that Williams entered her home through a window on the evening of March 27, beat another male in the home with a log chain, and punched her in the face.

The female victim said Williams bashed out all the windows in a car belonging to the male victim. The male victim did not testify.

Collins argued in closing statements that Williams broke into the house and assaulted the male victim because he wanted to be in a romantic relationship with the female victim.

The female victim testified that while Williams had stayed at her house on occasion, they were not in a relationship.

Tabitha Holsinger, one of Williams’ acquaintances, testified that she drove Williams to the victim’s home so he could pick up some shirts he had left there. She said she didn’t see how he entered the home, and didn’t mention a log chain in testimony.

Hapner argued that there was no evidence of a log chain being used in the assault, adding that the female victim initially gave the wrong name to law enforcement and later corrected it. The female victim testified that she was so upset at the time of the incident, she couldn’t remember Williams’ name correctly, adding that more often than not, Williams is known only as “Cowboy.”

Hapner argued that Williams and the victim had been in a relationship, and that Williams ended it that night, causing the female victim to be upset and accuse Williams of committing the crime.

Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.

Joel Williams, right, sits in Highland County Common Pleas Court on Monday with attorney Kathryn Hapner. Williams, right, sits in Highland County Common Pleas Court on Monday with attorney Kathryn Hapner. David Wright | The Times-Gazette
Judge to make ruling on arguments at Monday hearing

By David Wright

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