AKRON, Ohio (AP) – A prosecutor told jurors on Monday that a man on trial for aggravated murder in the fatal shooting of an off-duty Akron police officer returned to the bar after being kicked out with revenge on his mind.
A defense attorney countered in his opening statement that 36-year-old Kenan Ivery came back to retrieve a container of chicken wings that he’d forgotten and that 32-year-old Justin Winebrenner would still be alive if a bar patron had allowed Ivery to get his food and leave. Attorney John Greven also told jurors that Ivery never meant to shoot anyone and that the gun he was carrying began firing “randomly” when Winebrenner and others knocked him to the ground.
Both sides said a key piece of evidence in the trial will be footage from a security camera that shows the initial confrontation inside the bar. The trial began Monday in Summit County Common Pleas Court.
Ivery could be sentenced to death if he’s convicted of aggravated murder in the fatal shooting of Winebrenner on Nov. 16 in Akron. Two of the four shots fired struck Winebrenner. Three people were wounded and a man was grazed by the other two shots.
Winebrenner, his fiancé and Ivery were at the bar after separately attending a fundraiser for a youth football team coached by Akron police officers. Ivery’s son played on the team.
Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel told jurors that Winebrenner’s fiancé, who owns the bar with her father, told Ivery to leave after a female patron complained that Ivery had been rude and had made her feel uncomfortable. Ivery returned about five minutes later, angry that he’d been disrespected and fired the fatal shots during a struggle with Winebrenner and others, Baumoel said.
“They were trying to isolate the danger and keep people inside the bar safe,” Baumoel said.
Defense attorney Greven said Ivery became frightened after Winebrenner and two other men surrounded him and that he didn’t remove the .40-caliber handgun from his waistband until Winebrenner and someone else put their hands on him. Greven said nearly everyone involved was legally drunk except for Ivery.
“Kenan Ivery doesn’t know (Winebrenner) is a police officer,” Greven told the jurors. “He’s just another guy in the bar.”
Greven told jurors that the video “is going to show you a lot.”
Monday’s trial began with a jury visit to the bar and is expected to last at least several weeks.
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