May 16, 2011
Contrary to what prosecutors said they intend to argue, Joel E. Sellers did not kill his roommate over a marijuana home grow operation, Sellers’ defense attorney said in a recent court filing.
While acknowledging that his client shot and killed George McArthur V, 24, on March 14 following an argument between the two, public defender John Cornely in a May 12 filing paints a more mundane picture over the fight that led up to the shooting.
“Mr. Sellers was angry at Mr. McArthur for having people over at 6 a.m., drinking beer and playing cards,” Cornely wrote. “Thus evidence of the alleged marijuana grow operation is not admissible (in court) to show motive.”
Prosecutors have asked Common Pleas Judge Everett H. Krueger to let them introduce evidence that Sellers was cultivating marijuana in the Delaware townhome on Liberty Road Sellers and his wife shared with McArthur. Sellers was concerned McArthur’s habit of frequently inviting people over would make it more likely police would get tipped off, and would thus explain why Sellers would want to kill his childhood friend, prosecutors have said.
However, Cornely said any drug-related allegations are irrelevant to the murder charge his client faces. Any mention of a marijuana operation would unfairly bias a jury against Sellers, he said.
McArthur’s two guests woke up another person sleeping on a couch in the apartment Sellers, 24, and his wife, Courtney shared with McArthur, Cornely wrote in the May 12 court filing. That person, Doug Adams, around 6 a.m. sent a text message to Mr. Sellers to complain, Cornely said in the filing.
Sellers was mad that the text woke him up and was concerned that the noisy guests would wake up the neighbors’ children. He was also concerned that McArthur’s friends had previously stolen an AR-15 assault rifle and a laptop computer, thefts that Sellers had reported to Delaware police.
Sellers called McArthur later in the morning and afterwards confronted him in the Sellers’ bedroom, Cornely said. Police have said that was where Sellers took a handgun and shot McArthur once in the throat, killing him.
Cornely doesn’t dispute this in the filing.
“It is believed the evidence will show Mr. Sellers shot Mr. McArthur one time during a struggle in Mr. Sellers’ bedroom as a result of an argument between the two,” Cornely said.
Sellers, who appeared in a court hearing on Monday afternoon, remains in the Delaware County Jail. He has pleaded not guilty to a single murder charge.
Krueger said in court he will decide whether to grant prosecutors’ request in the next couple of weeks. Cornely also said he will file paperwork this week to again request that he be allowed to use a private investigator to interview witnesses to the shooting.
Sellers confessed to the shooting, prosecutors have said.
Members of McArthur’s family, who declined to comment to a reporter, attended the hearing, some wearing pin-on plastic buttons bearing McArthur’s face. Members of Sellers’ family were also present, and also declined to speak with a reporter.
There are five more court hearings scheduled before the set Sept. 12 trial date, the next being at 11 a.m. on June 20.