Trial for attempted murder in South Haven bar gets under way
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent May 21, 2012 5:26PM
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:44AM
VALPARAISO — Whether what happened in a dark South Haven bar was attempted murder or whether the Lake Station man on trial did the shooting is up to a jury to decide this week.
Deputy prosecutor Cheryl Polarek said in opening statements Monday that Jason D. King, 37, “was looking for trouble” in February 2011 “and he did that using a handgun that was stolen.”
Polarek told the jurors that King went to the Jim Beam Warehouse on U.S. 6 with the handgun in his waistband and began crowding Woodrow McGuire Jr.
King pushed against the college student in the bar, which wasn’t crowded on a Thursday night, Polarek said.
When McGuire asked King what the problem was, they had words, and King’s brother tried to separate the men, Polarek said.
King pulled the .22-caliber H&R revolver and shot the man in the face. Bar security held King for police.
Defense attorney Larry Rogers agreed that the men exchanged words in the bar, which was dark with very low lighting.
“Beyond that, I don’t think anybody knows what happened,” Rogers said.
The only ones who say King did the shooting are the victim and his friend, but police didn’t investigate, Rogers said.
He said the bar was being streamed over the Internet, but police didn’t look for a recording, nor did police swab King’s hands for gunpowder or examine his clothes for gunpowder residue. Rogers also said police didn’t check to see if the gun he had was recently fired.
Video from the police car shows King was too drunk to know what was going on, and he probably was still drunk when police interviewed him again at noon the next day, Rogers said.
Polarek said King wanted to talk to the feds when he was in police custody.
King faces 20 to 50 years in prison if convicted of Class A felony attempted murder, six to 20 years if convicted of Class B felony battery and up to three years if convicted of possession of stolen property.
The prosecution has also charged him with a habitual offender enhancement.
The handgun was stolen in July 2006 from a woman in a grocery store parking lot. The purse snatcher went to trial, and the woman eventually reclaimed most of her property, except for her cash and the gun.
Polarek said the gun was missing five years until it showed up with King.