CANTON — An argument outside an Alliance apartment building has led to a man standing trial for murder.
Larry P. McBride, 58, is also charged with felonious assault in the June 13 stabbing death of Darrell W. Deubel, 37.
During opening arguments Monday, Stark County Assistant Prosecutor Megan Starrett told jurors that McBride fatally stabbed Deubel in the neck.
Deubel was wearing a kilt and what she described as a utility belt with a knife attached inside a sheath. Also on the belt were a cigarette lighter and cellphone. But Starrett said that during a heated argument with McBride on a porch, Deubel didn’t reach for the knife, citing witnesses.
McBride went inside his apartment in the 1500 block of S. Linden Ave. and got his own knife before returning to his neighbor’s porch. The stabbing followed about 10:10 p.m., she said.
During a police interview following the stabbing, McBride told police he was defending himself and feared for his own safety. In the recorded interview played on the first day of his trial, the defendant told Alliance police investigators Deubel “bum-rushed him” and threatened him physically.
Investigators told McBride witnesses contradicted his account.
McBride’s attorney, Wayne Graham, asked jurors in opening statements to carefully review and consider the evidence presented by prosecutors.
“I suspect as this case proceeds, you’re going to hear Larry’s actions, while regrettable, may not have been intentional and may have been, in a twisted and perhaps even mistaken way, self-defense.”
Concluding his remarks, Graham said, “Not everything is as it seems.”
During the police interview, investigators asked McBride why he didn’t stay inside his apartment and lock the door if he was concerned for his safety, instead of putting his prosthetic leg on and placing a knife in the basket of his walker and returning to the porch where he had been arguing with Deubel. He said he was concerned about Deubel walking around with a knife on his belt.
Police also asked McBride why he hadn’t called 911 or asked others to do so.
“I thought maybe it’d blow over,” McBride told investigators. “I didn’t think it’d escalate (with him) pushing (a neighbor) out of the way to get to me.”
McBride told investigators his cellphone hadn’t been working. He also said the accounts shared with police by witnesses were inaccurate. The defendant emphasized that he didn’t kill Deubel intentionally, contending the man lunged at him and ran into his knife.
“The dude’s drunk,” McBride said during the police interview. “He has a knife hanging on him, talking mad (and acting obnoxiously).”
Added McBride, “I was really scared for my safety ... I got one leg.”
Later in the interview, the defendant said, “Maybe I didn’t handle it the right way. I’m sorry the dude is dead, I really am. ... He ran into that knife; I didn’t stab him. I didn’t chase him down the road.”
James Yeagley, a neighbor of McBride’s, testified Monday about the fatal confrontation.
Yeagley said that Deubel was drunk and had acted belligerently. The witness said he and others had asked Deubel to leave.
Deubel lived less than a block away, according to testimony. McBride told police he didn’t even know Deubel by name.
Yeagley testified he didn’t hear Deubel threaten McBride.
The witness told Stark County Assistant Prosecutor Dennis Barr Deubel walked toward McBride but didn’t “bum-rush” the defendant. Yeagley said McBride stabbed Deubel.
Earlier on the night of June 13, Deubel had been walking near the porch where McBride and Yeagley were hanging out along with a few other people. McBride was in a wheelchair at the time.
Deubel was walking to buy beer and cigarettes, according to testimony. McBride told police he had given Deubel $6 to buy him cigarettes.
Some of the questions pertained to the kilt Deubel was wearing.
“Is it normal for men to run around in Alliance after dark with skirts on?” Graham asked Alliance police officer Anthony Palozzi.
Answered Palozzi: “We see them from time to time; it’s not normal.”
Starrett, of the prosecutor’s office, then asked Palozzi if it’s “OK to kill somebody because they’re wearing a kilt.”
“No,” the officer responded.
Palozzi also told Starrett the victim had not pulled out his own knife before he was stabbed in the neck.
Testimony in the case will continue Tuesday.
Reach Ed at 330-580-8315 and firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @ebalintREP