Conviction upheld for Monroe man who stabbed his roommate to death

Credit: Journal News

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Peyton McFarland takes the stand in his own trial

Credit: Journal News

Appellate court agreed with the jury that it was not self-defense

The 12th District Court of Appeals has upheld the murder conviction of a Monroe man for the stabbing death of his roommate in May 2020.

Peyton McFarland, now 23, was found guilty last year after a five-day jury trial in Butler County Common Pleas Court of murder and felonious assault for fatally stabbing Christopher Hacker to death on May 30, 2020, at their Sands Avenue residence.

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McFarland was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years by Judge Jennifer McElfresh.

At trial, McFarland didn’t deny stabbing Hacker with a 7-inch knife that was attached to an ax, but said he acted in self-defense. The incident started when they had an argument about dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. The argument turned contentious and violent with Hacker receiving a fatal wound.

Hacker was stabbed five times with the knife, including two wounds in his back. One stab wound hit Hackler’s aorta, causing the fatal injury, according to evidence presented by Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Jon Marshall at trial.

McFarland testified in his own defense saying he was afraid of Hacker, who was his sister’s boyfriend and often was violent with her.

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On appeal, McFarland maintained he acted in self-defense and he weight of evidence presented at trial did not support his conviction.

In a unanimous decision, the appellate court disagreed in the self-defense claim, pointing out discrepancies between the physical evidence, McFarland’s testimony and statements to officials that were inconsistent.

McFarland told the 911 dispatcher that he “attacked” Hacker, that he stabbed him, that he used a knife, and the he needed to be arrested, Justice Matthew Byrne wrote in the appellate opinion. McFarland also told a sergeant shortly after the incident that he “(expletive) up” and was “sorry.”

“For these reasons, the jury could find that McFarland’s testimony was not credible and he did not have a bona fide belief that he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm,” Byrne wrote. “This is not a case where the weight of evidence weighed heavily in favor of acquittal. To the contrary, this is a case in which the evidence of McFarland’s guilt is overwhelming ...”

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