By CHRISTOPHER BOBBY
WARREN - When he heard the ''cracking and breaking'' noises at the back door of his Niles home last July 12, Roy Hahn said he knew it wasn't his longtime girlfriend.
Tribune Chronicle photos / R. Michael Semple
Roy Hahn of Niles testifies in Michael Burns murder trial Tuesday afternoon before Judge Andrew Logan. Here, Hahn explains how he shot through the front door of his Niles-Cortland Road home.
The 41-year-old part-time dairy farmer told a Trumbull County jury on Tuesday that he had awakened to the noise and watched two men trying to pry their way into the door. They ran to the front of his Niles Cortland Road home and then he heard the same noises at the front door.
''That's when I knew whoever it was didn't belong there. They were loud,'' Hahn said.
The Niles man said he grabbed his deer gun and fired one shot from the 16 gauge to the left of the front door handle. Then he called police.
''This kind of thing doesn't happen every day. That's why I chose to live in Niles,'' Hahn said testifying in the murder-manslaughter case of Michael Burns - one of three men accused of trying to burglarize what they thought was a vacant house. They were looking for scrap copper to sell so they could go to the Trumbull County Fair.
Burns, 34, who also faces charges of attempted burglary, was hit in the upper right arm with the shot that passed through the chest of 36-year-old Terry Allen. Allen was killed when Hahn fired through the door.
Police and prosecutors charged Burns and Scott Crislip, 18, also of Niles, with trying to break into the house. Allen's wife, Nichole, 35, of Mineral Ridge, and Mindy Sierra, 32, of McDonald, face the same charges as Burns and Crislip, accused of leaving the scene of the shooting after dropping off the three men.
Hahn and a group of Niles police officers testified Tuesday, the second day of trial testimony in the courtroom of Judge Andrew Logan.
Even though it was the intended victim who pulled the trigger, Burns and others involved were charged with murder because they were committing a felony during which someone died, according to assistant county prosecutor Chris Becker.
Niles police like Patrolmen Bill Pike and Jim Reppy along with their supervisor Lt. Dan Adkins said Hahn was shook up after the shooting.
''He (Hahn) came out of the back door and he was agitated at first. His adrenaline was pumping. Then he saw the body, and he was distraught,'' Pike said. ''He was crying.''
''I didn't think they were coming for coffee and tea. They had Latex gloves, camouflage and crowbars. I didn't try to shoot anyone,'' Hahn said under cross examination by Burns' attorney Ron Yarwood.
Yarwood tried to press Hahn about whether he truly shouted the name of his girlfriend when he first heard a commotion outside his door.
Burns told Niles Detective Jim Robbins after his arrest that if the would-be intruders had heard a loud shout or saw a light come on inside the house they might have left.
At another point Tuesday, Logan refused to allow testimony from a prosecution witness, who was prepared to tell about overhearing members of the group planning to steal copper out of homes before the fact.