Neighbors describe day of heavy drinking before fatal stabbing

Robert White is on trial this week in Warren County Common Pleas Court. He is charged with murder for the stabbing death of Terry Hall Jr. in August 2017. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Robert White is on trial this week in Warren County Common Pleas Court. He is charged with murder for the stabbing death of Terry Hall Jr. in August 2017. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Residents of a Franklin neighborhood testified Tuesday on the second day of the murder trial for a man charged in a stabbing death last August.

Robert White, 40, is charged with murder and felonious assault for allegedly killing Terry Hall Jr. on Aug. 27, 2017, at a Rooks Lane home where White sometimes stayed with Nicole Checkawitz.

The defense says White acted in self-defense after past confrontations with Hall, who was also a friend of Checkawitz. But prosecutors point to the fact that Hall was stabbed multiple times and did not have a weapon.

MORE: Man on trial for murder says Franklin stabbing was self defense 

Eric Salmons, a neighbor of Checkawitz, testified he was fixing breakfast on Aug. 27, 2017, when White came to his house to hang out. They began drinking beer that lasted throughout the day. White walked to Checkawitz’s house at some point and returned with an orange juice and vodka for both men.

When asked how much beer the two consumed, Salmons said, “hard to say.”

In the afternoon, Salmons said he heard a confrontation between White and Checkawitz outside his house.

“He wanted her to take him back to Norwood,” Salmons said. He said Hall was also present during that spat. White calmed down enough to go to a Franklin bar, Salmons said.

Salmons said he later found White on Checkawitz’s back porch and took him back to his house, where he put him in a recliner.

“I told him to sleep it off,” Salmons said. He was awaken later by his wife, who told him White had stabbed Hall.

“I said no way,” Salmons recalled.

Amber Salmons estimated during her testimony that her husband, White and another neighbor consumed 45 beers on Aug. 27, 2017.

She too heard and saw the afternoon confrontation among White, Checkawitz and Hall.

MORE: Franklin stabbing victim’s family packs courtroom for arraignment

“He wanted to go back to Cincinnati and she wouldn’t take him,” Amber Salmons said. Unlike the men, she said she had no alcohol to drink that day.

Hall became involved in the confrontation because he said he didn’t like the way White was talking to Checkawitz, Amber Salmons said.

At one point, Hall grabbed White and pushed him back, according to Amber Salmons.

“I told him (White) to get back up on the porch and he did,” she said.

Amber Salmons said the men left the house and later returned. After her husband was in bed, White again left the house, she said. Then, while she was watching the movie “In the Heat of the Night,” police arrived.

MORE: Coroner: No autopsy results to be released in Franklin fatal stabbing

The Salmons upstairs renter, who heard Checkawitz outside her house, went into the woman’s home and brought her five children to the Salmons’ house.

“I grabbed them up, put them in the bedroom and turned the TV on,” Amber Salmons said.

Prosecutors played a jail house call for jurors placed by White to a woman two days after the stabbing.

“I remember stabbing him in the neck,” he said in the call.

He said he grabbed a knife as Hall approached him with a chair.

“He finally fell to the ground and I stuck him twice again because he kept moving around,” he said.

White said the confrontation happened after he and Checkawitz were arguing and Checkawitz went and got Hall.

Also testifying Tuesday were Franklin detectives who collected evidence at the Rooks Lane scene. Jurors were shown Hall’s blood-soaked clothing with multiple holes from the stabbing. One slash was in the back side of the shirt.

The trial is scheduled to continue all week.

White has been held in the Warren County Jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond since the stabbing.