Man gets 6 years for felonious assault

Published 10:58 am Thursday, April 17, 2014

An Ironton man convicted of felonious assault gave a tearful final statement Wednesday just before he was sentenced.

“I’m sorry for what I done,” Robert Harper said. “I was sorry after it happened. … I wasn’t going down there in a rage. I went in just to get my keys and I was going to leave.”

Harper, 37, was found guilty of the second-degree felony Tuesday after a day and a half jury trial. Common Pleas Judge D. Scott Bowling sentenced the man to six years in prison based on the recommendation of Robert Anderson, assistant prosecuting attorney.

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“As far as confronting the victim, that was clearly the purpose,” Anderson said. “Justice for the victim demands a high-range sentence.”

Gene Meadows, Harper’s attorney, requested the minimum possible sentence.

“We respect the jury’s verdict,” Meadows said. “We don’t have to agree with it but we respect it.”

Harper indicated he wanted to appeal the decision and Bowling appointed attorney David Reid Dillon to the case.

Harper was arrested July 21 after he assaulted Jason Smith, an Ironton attorney and business owner, at Smith’s bar, the Fuzzy Duck.

Harper had come to the bar to retrieve some of his belongings from his girlfriend, who is also Smith’s wife.

During Harper’s testimony, the man said he was in fear for his life when he saw that Smith had a gun hidden in his waistband. Harper said he saw Smith reaching for it when he struck the man in self-defense.

Smith testified that he had placed his gun in his waistband because he knew Harper was coming to the bar, but before the incident, he was not reaching for the weapon.

The jury deliberated for less than 30 minutes Tuesday before reaching a guilty verdict.

Smith was also indicted following the assault. He was charged with third-degree counts of having weapons under a disability and illegal possession of a firearm in a liquor-permit premises.

Smith pleaded not guilty to the charges and the case is still pending with a trial date set for June 19.