PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn said, looking back on the case of the shooting of a Wheelersburg man that he took to the Scioto County grand jury, he is satisfied he presented all of the evidence available. Late last week the grand jury chose not to indict Tyler Staker, 22, of Portsmouth in the shooting that claimed the life of Steven Holsinger, 33, on his property at 9550 Old Gallia Pike.
“I can’t think of anything that (Scioto County Sheriff’s Detective) Jodi Conkel didn’t do,” Kuhn said. “She and I spent a long time going through this, and actually went out to the scene about a week and a half after. We wanted to go late at night under similar conditions. We went out and we talked about what’s here, what’s there. There’s something we ran across on a jail phone call that was completely unrelated to this so they went and tracked that down and tried to see if there was any truth in it.”
Kuhn said the jury looked at the evidence and listened to the testimony of several witnesses over some 6 1/2 hours before concluding that there was no need to bring a case against Staker.
“It’s the longest since I’ve been here. And I’ve been here eight years,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn had said earlier he would not take the case to the grand jury until all evidence was in his possession and analyzed. Among the evidence he was waiting for was the official autopsy performed on Holsinger.
“We got it back August 24th or some time that week,” Kuhn said. “We got the pictures a week after that. That was the last critical thing that we were looking for. Some time the week between the (Aug.) 27th and 31st we got the autopsy photographs in.”
Kuhn was asked about the protocol followed by law enforcement agencies when they are at a major crime scene and communication between the prosecutor’s office and the agencies.
“If they’ve got questions it is,” Kuhn said. “We’ve got pretty good communication between the offices. Sometimes I get calls when they are in the midst of the investigation. Sometimes I get it when they’re finishing up the investigation that night. Sometimes I get a call the next day. A lot of it depends on the case and what they’ve got going on.”
Kuhn was asked if police officers, deputies, and detectives call him from the scene to make a decision as to whether to make an arrest or not.
“That’s not normally the procedure,” Kuhn said. “I saw that comment in the paper and I made a little comment to one of the detectives, since I’m going to start approving all of your arrests, when are you going to start getting me a list of who you want to charge?”
Kuhn said there is communication between him and officers at a crime scene if they have questions about the case.
“We’ve got real good communication between this office and the detectives now,” Kuhn said. “It hasn’t always been that way. There were times in the past where we wouldn’t talk to them for a week or more after a homicide. Now the communication is much better between the offices. But as far as them calling to get my approval, that’s not the case.”
Kuhn said he is always glad to give them advice when they call and ask for it.
“We talk a lot about cases,” Kuhn said. “I don’t want to infer that it is a rare thing for them to call me either. But a lot of times it is to say, ‘Hey, this is what happened. This is what we’ve done and we just want to let you know what’s going on, and we’ll get you a packet over here in the next couple of days.’ Then, other times it’s, ‘We’re here at the scene and we need some legal advice.’”
Kuhn reiterated he believes the case he brought to the grand jury was complete.
“I can’t say there’s anything in this case they didn’t do that I saw that was left undone on it,” Kuhn said.
Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini stated during the investigation his detectives learned that Staker and his father had responded to the location of the shooting to repossess a piece of equipment that was purchased from their business that had not been fully paid for.
According to Donini, detectives determined that Staker and his father had been at this location for over an hour knocking on the door in attempts to repossess the equipment.
Donini said that Holsinger came out onto the porch at approximately 10:20 p.m. with a gun in his hand and very upset. A witness told detectives that he did put the gun into his pocket for a short time, then got upset and pulled out the gun telling Staker and his father that they had three seconds to get off his property, then Holsinger raised the weapon pointing it at Staker’s face. At that time is when Tyler reportedly shot Holsinger several times, Donini said.
In a tragic case full of emotion and rumor, it is testimony from a surprising source that leads the grand jury to its ultimate decision. That compelling testimony and several others will be in Sunday’s edition of the Portsmouth Daily Times.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com