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The Niles homeowner who fatally shot a suspected burglar last month will not face any charges for the shooting, but the people investigators believe were helping the suspected burglar could be charged with murder.
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins on Wednesday issued his opinion that resident Roy Hahn, of 1539 Niles Cortland Road, was within his rights to fatally shoot Terry D. Allen, 36, of Mineral Ridge, because he and four others conspired to break into his home and steal copper.
Watkins’ opinion says Hahn’s shooting is a “classic example” of the Castle Doctrine, which allows for the use of deadly force to “repel an ongoing violent use of force.”
Watkins said no charges relating to Hahn will be presented to a grand jury. Watkins noted Hahn has no criminal record that would prohibit him from owning a firearm and has lived in the house for the last 15 years.
“It is my opinion that under the law in the State of Ohio that the homeowner by no fault of his own clearly was placed in a state of jeopardy by several felonious intruders including the deceased Terry Dew Allen and thus had a right to defend his life, home, and property by the use of deadly force…,” Watkins wrote.
Watkins also alluded to law that says the four people charged with being involved in the planned break-ins— Allen’s wife, Nicole R. Allen, 35; Scott C. Crislip, 18, of Cedar Street; Michael Burns, 33 also known as “Meatball”; and Mindy Sierra, 32, of Mineral Ridge— could face murder or manslaughter charges because someone died as a result of their alleged conspiracy to commit a violent crime.
Investigators found Allen dead with a crowbar in his latex-gloved hand wearing camouflage.
Hahn, Watkins’ opinion says, fired a shotgun through the door. The bullet ripped through Allen’s chest and struck Burns in the arm, investigators found.
The five, investigators believe, conspired to break into several homes July 12 and steal copper. They drove that night from the Days Inn on Youngstown-Warren Road in Niles after meeting to discuss plans, according to Watkins.
Burns told investigators they first went to 1543 Niles Cortland Road, used a crowbar to break into the home and realized someone already had stripped the building of copper.
Burns said they went to Hahn’s home and Allen tried to pry the side door open. Hahn, who fell asleep at about 9:30 p.m., awoke to sounds of people breaking into his home about three hours later.
He told investigators he heard at least three people trying to break into his home, grabbed his 16-gauge single-shot shotgun still loaded from last deer hunting season and heard someone prying at his door. He then heard the group go to his front door.
Hahn, investigators said, fired the single shot through the front door that struck Allen and Burns. Hahn called 911, told dispatchers he thought he shot intruders, cooperated with investigators and consented to them searching his home, Watkins said.
“I was scared that if they had gotten into the house that they’d kill me,” Hahn told investigators.
Burns and Crislip fled, Burns told investigators. Burns was picked up by Nicole Allen and Mindy Sierra at the Royal Mall apartments and Crislip was picked up at the Niles Cemetery.
Nicole Allen, while police were at the home investigating, told detectives her husband was at the home when he was shot. She told detectives she dropped her husband and Burns off in the area to steal copper, according to Watkins.
Sierra told police she was at the meeting where they discussed stealing copper, Watkins wrote in his opinion. She said they dropped the two off and went for coffee while waiting for them to call for a ride after they were done stealing copper.
The Allens left their four minor children home alone while they left to steal copper, the opinion says.