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‘Justice for John’

Delawder faces 26 years to life in prison

 

Showing no emotion, a 34-year-old Ironton man did not stir in his seat as a judge read aloud three guilty verdicts — one charge being the murder of the man’s brother-in-law.

The verdict was read by Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Cooper at about 10:30 a.m. Friday following about two hours of jury deliberation that morning in the case of Rodney “Rocky” Delawder, who in addition to murder, was found guilty of second-degree felonious assault of his other brother-in-law and second-degree improperly discharging a firearm into a home or habitation.

The jury determined beyond a reasonable doubt that Delawder severely beat his brother-in-law Larry McKnight, 47, causing a fractured jaw and concussion, as well as firing a shotgun into the back window of Carolyn McKnight’s home, killing her son, also Delawder’s brother-in-law, John McKnight, 48. The incident happened at 2953 State Route 243, Ironton, on Jan. 29, 2013.

Following the reading of the verdicts, Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson said he was happy with the jury’s decision.

“It’s justice for John McKnight and his family,” Anderson said. “It was a bad situation. I believe there was sufficient evidence for the guilty verdict.”

Mike Davenport, Delawder’s attorney, who argued during the trial that Larry McKnight was the one who loaded the shotgun that killed John, disagreed.

“This is a tragic situation for both families,” Davenport said. “We were, frankly, surprised by the verdict. We believed the evidence in this case was not sufficient for a guilty verdict.”

Davenport said it was likely Delawder would appeal the decision.

According to Anderson, the murder charge carries with it 15 years to life in prison. The charge is also coupled with a gun specification that tacks on a mandatory three-year sentence, which must run consecutively.

The second-degree felonies carry a maximum eight years in prison with the felonious assault charge to be served consecutively, for a total of 26 years to life in prison.

Cooper set sentencing for March 12.

The trial lasted for five days with jury deliberations spanning two days for about fours hours total.