Sudderth case to grand jury

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The attorney for a Columbus man charged with murder said his client acted in self-defense when he shot an Ironton man Monday morning.

“He was getting the crap beat out of him and this put him in fear for his life,” said Warren Morford, who represents Isaiah Sudderth, who is accused of shooting to death Damon Pringle at an apartment in the 800 block of 10th Street.

During a preliminary hearing Thursday morning, Ironton Municipal Court Judge O. Clark Collins determined there was probable cause to send the case against Sudderth to a Lawrence County grand jury.

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During the hearing, Deanna Michelle Burton testified that she had been with Pringle, members of his family, members of her family and friends Sunday night and they had visited the American Legion to celebrate Father’s Day.

During the evening there was more than one telephone conversation between their group and Sudderth and his girlfriend, Kimberly Sammons and their friends. Burton testified that early Monday morning, she, Pringle and others went to the Sammons residence where the shooting took place.

She said Pringle and Sudderth had gotten into an altercation and that Pringle had struck Sudderth a couple of times and told him to sit down. She testified at one point Sudderth ran upstairs and came back with a gun.

She said when she saw the gun, she went out the back door. She heard gunshots and returned to find Pringle lying outside, bleeding badly.

But Morford countered that Pringle had been drinking before he went to Sammons’ apartment. Burton contended Pringle was not drunk, though he had consumed alcohol.

“Was he doing drugs?” Morford asked.

“Not when he was with me,” Burton said.

Morford asked if the group she and Pringle were with had been invited to the Sammons residence or if they showed up uninvited and let themselves in.

Burton said there had been no invitation but did not know who opened the door at Sammons’ residence the night of the shooting. Shortly after their arrival, the fight ensued that allegedly led to the shooting.

“He (Pringle) threw the first punch, didn’t he? And he proceeded to give Mr. Sudderth a beating, didn’t he? And he received a black eye, didn’t he?” Morford asked. “And Mr. Sudderth pleaded with Mr. Pringle to calm down, didn’t he? And quite immediately it would become a fracas once you got inside the apartment, wouldn’t it?”

But Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Jeff Smith countered that Sudderth had the chance to leave the apartment and avoid further conflict that led to the shooting.

“He could have gone out the front door, but he didn’t, did he?” Smith asked Burton. Under Ohio law, a defendant may claim self defense but must show he or she did not provoke the incident, did not violate a duty to retreat from danger and was in fear of great bodily harm or injury.

Ironton police detective, Capt. Chris Bowman testified Pringle had been shot four times in the chest and back. Pringle was pronounced dead shortly after being taken to Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Russell, Ky. Sudderth remains in jail under a $500,000 bond.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Chad Kantor stopped the Ford Explorer Sudderth used to flee the scene not too long after the shooting. Sudderth was allegedly driving 92 miles and hour in a 55 mile-per-hour zone and allegedly had a tested .138 on an alcohol sobriety test, Bowman said.