Man pleads to reduced charge in shooting

NILES — A man who shot his girlfriend in the shin, but bandaged the wound and made a tourniquet, was able to plead to a misdemeanor instead of a felony because of the circumstances, Niles Prosecutor Terry Swauger said.

Edward Culler, 19, was charged with felonious assault in Niles Municipal Court after Taryn Simmons, 22, was shot April 10 in an apartment where the couple lives at 5616 Youngstown Warren Road, according to police and court records. The couple was arguing because Simmons did not want Culler to have a gun in the house, Swauger said.

The two struggled for the gun and it fired, Swauger said.

Because the two gave identical stories in separate interviews, Swauger said he and the other investigators were confident they were telling the truth.

“And then, we had no choice. The felonious assault charge didn’t fit anymore,” Swauger said.

Culler gave Simmons first aid, and made sure she called for help even though he knew he was likely to get into trouble, Swauger said.

Culler originally pleaded not guilty and acting municipal court Judge Kara Stanford set a bond of $15,000. He spent seven days in Trumbull County Jail.

On Monday, he pleaded no contest to negligent assault, a third-degree misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, with 53 suspended, and ordered to pay a $200 fine and court costs.

Police spoke to a neighbor after the shooting who told officers he heard the couple arguing before hearing a gun go off, the report states. The neighbor told police after the gunshot, he heard a man run down the apartment stairs and then back up, yelling, “You got to; there’s too much blood,” the report states.