LISBON - John N. Thompson faces between nine and 36 months in prison after a jury in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday found him guilty of intimidation of a victim in a criminal case.
Following the verdict, which came after about 90 minutes of deliberations, Judge C. Ashley Pike set bond for Thompson at $50,000 cash or surety. He also requested a pre-sentencing investigation before sentencing, which is set for April 8. The bond was set after Assistant County Prosecutor Tammie Riley Jones said she had concerns about whether Thompson would appear or possibly run. At one point in his short adult life, he was a fugitive from justice in West Virginia. He also had failed to appear at other hearings.
Pike did not order Thompson to stay away from the victim in the case, Desiree Browning, who not only appeared at the trial to testify on Thompson's behalf, but sobbed and left the courtroom after the verdict was read.
"These two are going to do what they are going to do anyway," Pike said of Browning and Thompson.
The only witness of the day, Thompson, 23, Chester Avenue, East Liverpool, testified on his own behalf. He attempted to explain away the phone conversations he made from a recorded line at the police station, including two to Browning within the hour of his arrest on July 11, 2012.
Thompson claimed he was only upset at Browning because he thought she had called police on him because she knew he had a warrant and she was angry at him for taking the neighbor's side over hers in a dispute that day. Besides calling Browning twice and telling her she better leave and he was sending someone up there to jump on her, Thompson also called his sister, Darla Davis, enlisting her help or sympathy about his arrest.
"It may have sounded threatening," Thompson said. "But I just wanted (Davis) to go up and talk to her because it was a big misunderstanding...I said things I shouldn't, but I was upset. I wanted her to be upset like me. I know she wouldn't be scared. She knows me...I told (Davis) to go up there and pretty much scare Desiree, but I didn't mean it. She knows I didn't mean it."
He also claimed he would try to scared her, because that would caused Browning to press charges on him.
Thompson said he believed after talking to one of the police officers in East Liverpool that day that Browning would probably drop the domestic violence charge, so he had no need to try to scare her or hurt her.
When Browning and Davis visited Thompson at the county jail before his first hearing in East Liverpool Municipal Court on the domestic violence charge, Thompson said he actually apologized and told her if she was subpoenaed she had to go to court. He said he did not want her to risk a contempt charge.
During closing arguments, defense attorney Richard Hura explained that he believes Thompson and Browning speak with a different cultural language than other. He likened it to the Maury Povich Show, where people argue, use foul language and threaten each other, but are still boyfriend and girlfriend in the end.
He also said Browning obviously did not take the threats seriously, because she was giggling during the playing of the audio tapes when she was on the stand Tuesday.
"He wasn't attempting to do anything," Hura said, emphasizing the word attempt which was part of the language in the charge. "He was venting - unfiltered."
However, Jones said there is nothing funny about the domestic violence and threats at the home between that couple. Instead she said it shows the tragedy of domestic violence and how an abuser can get what they want. She noted the very first time Thompson called Browning from the East Liverpool police station, Browning pointed out to him that he had hit her, proving all along Thompson knew a domestic violence charge was possible.
Jones said Thompson was not venting. He was using calculated phone calls to try to intimidate Browning. Then when he apologized to her at the county jail he was still trying to influence her, just not through threats.
"To sit here and tell you folks he didn't mean it, don't believe it," Jones said. "It just didn't work... It didn't work so now it's easy to say I didn't mean it."