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Coal Grove case sent to grand jury

Homicide
Feb. 09, 2013 @ 12:26 AM

CHESAPEAKE, Ohio -- Charges against an Ironton man of murder with a gun specification, felonious assault and discharging a firearm into a habitation will be submitted to a Lawrence County grand jury later this month, said Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson.

Acting Judge John Hall bound Rodney E. DeLawder, 33, over to the grand jury during a preliminary hearing Friday in Lawrence County Municipal Court west of Chesapeake. DeLawder is being represented by Mike Davenport, a Lawrence County lawyer.

DeLawder is being held in the Lawrence County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond. He is charged in the death of his brother-in law John McKnight, 48, as well as the felonious assault against another brother-in-law and discharging a firearm through the kitchen window of a Coal Grove area residence on Jan. 29, said Mack Anderson, an assistant prosecutor.

Brigham Anderson said Friday the case would be presented to a grand jury scheduled to meet Feb. 25 and 26 in Ironton.

A fight between DeLawder and John and Larry McKnight began outside the residence along Ohio 243 in Perry Township, said Det. Aaron Bollinger of the Lawrence County sheriff's office. Bollinger was the only witness to testify Friday morning during the preliminary hearing.

Larry J. McKnight, 46, sustained a broken jaw in the fight, Bollinger said.

John McKnight was inside the kitchen of the residence when the shotgun held by DeLawder discharged, according to Bollinger. John McKnight was pronounced dead at the scene.

Bollinger said DeLawder remembers the gun going off. The single-shot shotgun was fired through the window of a kitchen door, he said. The shotgun was recovered by authorities outside the residence. DeLawder was arrested at his mother's residence after the shooting.

The mother of the victims told Bollinger she witnessed the three men fighting and that DeLawder had a shotgun and threatened to kill John McKnight.

Larry McKnight was unconscious at the time of the fatal shooting, Bollinger said.

DeLawder faces a maximum life sentence if convicted, Brigham Anderson said. If the sentences are served consecutively, it could be 34 years before he is eligible to see the parole board.

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