After six days of testimony, a Springfield man was found guilty of strangling another man.
Prosecutor’s and defense lawyers argued during six days of testimony whether a choke hold or drugs killed 35-year-old Deshun Lumford in December 2015. They presented their closing arguments and the jury deliberated Tuesday evening.
Prentiss Rashan Hare, 35, was convicted of murder and aggravated robbery and will be sentenced on Dec. 13. Hare didn’t take the stand during trial.
Clark County prosecutors alleged Hare killed Lumford inside a home on South Light Street on Dec. 4, 2015, after the two men had an argument over drugs.
The prosecution put several witnesses in front of jurors who were inside the home and testified they saw Hare choke Lumford.
“Deshun was talking and acting just fine before (Hare) pounced on him, before that man put his hands around his neck,” Clark County Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Hoying told the jury in closing arguments Tuesday afternoon.
A construction worker found Lumford’s body behind the Main Stop food mart on the corner of West Main and South Light streets and called police. Police and medics responded but Lumford was dead.
The case appeared to be a drug overdose, prosecutors said, until three days after the death when the witnesses came forward in the case.
Hare’s lawyers countered the prosecution’s claim of murder and pointed to evidence such as toxicology reports that showed large amounts of fentanyl and other drugs in Lumford’s system at the time of his death.
Those drugs levels, defense attorney Anthony VanNoy said, are what killed Lumford.
“The (toxicology) screening verifies these incredible levels,” he said.
Doctors who performed the autopsy and made the official death report also noted signs of a choke hold, Hoying told jurors.
That same doctor, she said, also testified he’d performed more than 1,000 autopsies on overdose victims and verified someone could live through the levels of drugs Lumford had in his system.
Hare has been booked in the Clark County Jail on a $750,000 bond since his arrest in December of 2015.
It first appeared Lumford’s death could have been an overdose, Clark County Assistant Prosecutor Andrew Picek said, but police noted suspicious things around the body.
The body appeared to have been dragged out the back of the home on South Light Street, police said.
And witness testimony of strangulation matched the autopsy notes of “manual asphyxiation” from doctors, Hoying said.
No visible trauma such as bruising appeared on the victim, Picek said, because of the type of choke hold, sometimes called a sleeper hold that was used.