Day 1 Of The Burger King Murder Trial

by Mackenzie Stasko on January 14, 2014 at 6:58 am

Timothy Daniel, the man accused of shooting and killing 61-year-old Charles Hooper at the South Zanesville Burger King on Oct. 31, represented himself in the courtroom Tuesday.

During opening statements, Muskingum County Prosecutor Mike Haddox called Daniel, 34, "cold blooded" for the "violent and unnecessary" death of Hooper, who was eating breakfast in a nearby booth when he heard Daniel and his then-girlfriend, Darlene Bender, arguing. Haddox said in an "effort to keep the peace," Hooper got out of his seat to intervene.

Haddox explained, "The defendant, Timothy Daniel, pointed his Kel-Tec 9 millimeter semi-automatic handgun at Hooper’s forehead and pulled the trigger."

During Daniel’s opening statement, he told the jury that most of what Haddox said was untrue, and said  he was simply defending himself against Hooper.

"I think the evidence will show, I didn’t, we’ll, I gotta go for something, I got self defense," Daniel explained. "I have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I was defending myself."

The first witness to take the stand was Christina McPeak who said when she sat down to eat breakfast with her father and 5-year-old son, she noticed Daniel and Bender arguing.  She said Hooper moved his tray forward, stood up out of the booth with his hands down, and took a step toward Daniel. McPeak said that’s when Daniel hit Hooper in the face with his gun, and then shot him in the forehead.

"After he shot Mr. Hooper, what did he do?," Haddox asked. "After he shot him, he kind of jumped back and Mr. Hooper fell on the floor face down.. and then he put his hood up and casually walked out," McPeak said of the shooting.

The second witness to take the stand was Darlene Bender. She called Daniel the aggresor and said she beleived he shot Hooper on purpose. Daniel is charged with aggravated murder with a firearm specification, felonious assault with a firearm specification, carrying a concealed weapon, and improper handling of a firearm. This is the second time Daniel has chosen to represent himself at a trial. According to court documents, Daniel was also on trial for murder in Franklin County in 2004. He was found not guilty. The trial will resume Wednesday at 9 a.m.