Thackston murder trial postponed

By Tom Corrigan - [email protected]

Scheduled for a two-day jury trial beginning Monday, the murder trial of a homeless Portsmouth man has been continued to a date unspecified as of Tuesday.

Dayne Maple, secretary to Scioto County Court of Common Pleas Judge Howard Harcha, said a new trial date for defendant Nathan Stiltner may be set by the end of this week. Maple stated during a pretrial hearing some evidentiary area issues arose which led defense attorneys to seek a continuation of the case. Harcha granted that motion.

Stiltner, 36, is charged in the August slaying of Portsmouth resident Douglas A. Thackston, who police say died from a single gunshot wound to his upper abdomen.

According to initial reports following the incident, Portsmouth City Police responded to a call at approximately 3 p.m. Aug. 4. The call came from 1923 Thomas Ave., Apt. D (Wayne Hill Apartments) regarding an alleged shooting.

At the time, police said Stiltner, 36, fled the scene and officials launched a manhunt for him. At 12:30 p.m. Aug. 5, police issued a release saying Stiltner was in custody.

At the time of Stiltner’s arrest, police released very little information, stating the incident was still under investigation. During a recent conversation regarding the case, Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware declined to go into any details regarding the alleged crime, noting Stiltner was about ready to go to trial.

Ware specifically declined to talk about any motive in the case, noting such information would be contained in investigative reports which he stated are not public information prior to criminal trials.

According to the indictment against Stiltner, handed down by a Scioto County Grand Jury on Aug. 23, Stiltner is charged with a total of four counts, most notably aggravated murder, an unclassified felony.

Count one, the aggravated murder charge, claims “on or about Aug. 4 at Scioto County, Ohio, Nathan L. Stiltner, unlawfully, did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the death of Douglas A. Thackston.”

Count two charges Stiltner with murder, again an unclassified felony. The count reads “Stiltner, unlawfully, did cause the death of Douglas A. Thackston, as a proximate result of the offender committing or attempting to commit an offense of violence that is a felony of the first or second degree, to wit: felonious assault.”

Count three against Stiltner is the charge of felonious assault, a felony of the second degree. Count three reads in part “Stiltner, unlawfully, did knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to Douglas A. Thackston by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordinance, to wit: a handgun.”

All three counts carry with them one firearm specification, or special circumstance, each. The specifications essentially claim Stiltner used a firearm to facilitate the offense in question.

The fourth count charges Stiltner with having weapons while under disability, a third-degree felony. Ohio law allows for several definitions of “disability,” although in this case the count specifically mentions the suspect “did knowingly acquire, have, carry, or use a firearm or dangerous ordinance and the person is drug dependent, in danger of drug dependence, or a chronic alcoholic.”

According to Maple, Stiltner is currently sitting in the Scioto County Jail awaiting his next court date, whenever that might be.

By Tom Corrigan

[email protected]