Springfield man on trial, accused of choking another man

Prentiss R. Hare
Prentiss R. Hare

Defense lawyers argue drugs, not their client, is to blame for the death

The trial of a Springfield man accused of strangling another man and leaving his body behind a convenience store has begun.

Prosecutor’s and defense lawyers are arguing whether a choke hold or a lethal amount of drugs killed 35-year-old Deshun Lumford in December 2015.

Prentiss Rashan Hare, 35, is charged with murder and aggravated robbery.

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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.

“Over $70, over some drugs, for no real reason at all,” Clark County Assistant Prosecutor Andrew Picek told jurors.

A construction worker doing his job at the corner of West Main and South Light streets spotted the body and called police. Police and medics responded but Lumford was dead.

The case appeared to be a drug overdose, Picek said, until Dec. 7 when witnesses came forward in the case and told investigators they saw Hare strangle the man.

But Hare’s lawyers argue it was drugs, not a choke hold, that caused Lumford’s death.

“The toxicology report indicated a fatal amount of heroin and fentanyl in Lumford’s system,” attorney Johnna Shia said.

Witnesses will also testify they saw Lumford alive after Hare choked him, she said, and he later died from the drugs.

Hare has been booked in the Clark County Jail on a $750,000 bond since his arrest in December.

It first appeared Lumford’s death could have been an overdose, Picek said, but police noted suspicious things around the body.

Lumford didn’t have any visible signs of trauma to his body, such as from an assault, a gun shot or stab wound, police said, but it did appear as if his body was dragged from the back door of 12 S. Light St.

Prosecutors told a jury they will hear from witnesses who were there at the time of the fight.

Hare’s defense rebutted those testimonies, saying the witnesses took days to go to police and had time to coordinate their stories.

“Three days to get their stories straight,” Shia said.

Prosecutor’s told the jury just because witnesses might have connections to drugs and prostitution, their word shouldn’t be discredited.

“That does not mean that you can’t rely on their testimony just because who they are,” Picek said.

The defense also has medical experts lined up to testify, Shia said, that the amount of drugs in Lumford’s system at the time of his death was to blame.

The trial is expected to last five to six days, a judge said, with no proceedings on Friday as the court is closed to observe Veteran’s Day.