A Mason woman testified Tuesday she acted in self defense in assaulting a belligerent former friend but denied trying to chop off the woman’s fingers with garden pruners.
Shena Moore, 24, admitted to pushing and striking the victim, Brittany Rager, but insisted Rager struck the first blow and refused to leave her mobile home.
“I was scared. I just wanted her out of my home,” she told the jury.
Moore, her father, Gerald Moore, 50, and boyfriend, John Gulley, 32, are each charged with kidnapping and felonious assault in the May 5 incident in the 700 block of Reading Road.
Rager testified Monday that she and longtime friend Shena Moore had become estranged after Gulley sent Rager a series of lewd text messages. Moore invited her via text message to her home to discuss the rift, she said.
Shortly after arriving, Rager said a 450-pound Gerald Moore struck her with his cane while a 350-pound Shena Moore and Gulley held her down and punched her.
The two then tried to chop off her finger with long-handled garden pruners as Gerald Moore urged them on, Rager said. Gulley is also accused of striking her in the forehead with the pruners during the altercation.
Rager, who weighs 115 pounds, testified she believed the trio intended to kill her.
Shena Moore admitted to sending Rager a text on May 4 reading, “Come over, let’s talk” but told jurors she was posturing in response to threats made by Rager and that the message was not intended as an invitation.
Rager, she testified, arrived at her home unannounced on May 5 and re-entered the residence multiple times after Shena Moore forcibly put her out. After being shoved out of the home twice, Rager re-entered the residence with the garden pruners. An altercation ensued as Shena Moore attempted to wrestle the pruners from her, resulting in the laceration to Rager’s forehead, she said.
Jurors also heard from Kasondra Zirkle, a friend of Shena Moore’s, who witnessed part of the altercation. Zirkle told the jury she saw Shena Moore push Rager down several porch stairs and that Rager pleaded with her for help. Zirkle said she she didn’t want to get involved and left the scene minutes later before police arrived.
Jurors heard an audio recording of a 911 call placed by Gerald Moore, in which he told an operator that Rager would not leave the residence and had a weapon before the call was disconnected.
Several Mason police officers who responded to the scene testified they encountered an “emotional” and “dazed” Rager outside the trailer with blood pouring down her face and hands from a head wound. Gulley, who fled the scene, was apprehended soon after and denied involvement in the altercation.
Gerald and Shena Moore are expected to invoke Ohio’s Castle Doctrine, which allows a person to use force to defend themselves against invaders of one’s home or car. However, jurors would need to consider if the force used was “reasonably necessary” in relation to the threat posed, said Mark Krumbein, a Cincinnati defense attorney.
“Even though there is no duty to retreat, you can still only take actions that are reasonable for the situation,” he explained. “Obviously it’s suspicious when it’s three on one and it’s a much smaller woman against a much larger man and woman. The burden is on the (defendants) to prove self-defense.”
Closing arguments are expected to begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The trio each face up to 19 years in prison if convicted of the charges.