Kirby trial: Witnesses tell of ‘horrific’ scene

LISBON — Those first to arrive at the Salem Township home following the Dec. 3, 2012 bludgeoning murder of Melinda Todd described a “horrific” scene during the start of testimony in a Common Pleas Court jury trial before Judge Megan Bickerton on Tuesday.

Erin Brickner, now 21-years-old, was only 12 when she arrived home from school with her younger sister, Sydney, to find their mother, Todd, and their nephew, Cole Reed, who was like a brother to them.

“Cole was lying on the ground in a pool of blood and my mom was lying on the couch,” Brickner told the jury, adding Reed started to sit up. “He said ‘mommy’s friend had come and beat us.'”

Brickner said she went over to her mom trying to wake her up, but Todd’s hand was ice cold and she knew she was gone.

Brickner’s father was coming to pick her up and the girls let him in while Brickner also called 911. Her father, Larry Brickner, carried Reed outside while they awaited the ambulance and the girls were sent to the neighbors house.

“It was horrible,” Brickner said of the scene. “I will never forget that. Never.”

The paramedic on the KLG ambulance that arrived, Jason Griffiths, also testified about how they had been told to stay back from the house because it was not known if it was a safe situation to go in there. But when they pulled up a man was in the driveway helping to stabilize or hold up the child, he soon learned was Reed. The man was pleading for the paramedics to help them and Griffiths said he and his partner on the ambulance could not just wait in good conscience. They parked the ambulance near a fence in a way to try to protect it in case the person who was responsible came through there.

Griffiths said the child had two round holes on the left side of his head that were oozing blood although there was also dried blood around it that indicated the injuries may have happened earlier. He also had a contusion on his chest and a bruise that looked like a handprint on his thigh. Although conscious and able to answer some of their questions, Griffiths indicated the child was not able to tell them what had happened. A detective also was briefly on the ambulance trying to ask the child questions.

“He only would say ‘mommy’s friend hurt him,'” Griffiths said of what the child told him before detectives arrived.

They bandaged the wounds on his head and had a STAT MedEvac helicopter meet them at the Salem Community Hospital due to the severity of Reed’s injuries. He was flown to Akron Children’s Hospital. Griffiths said he believed at the time the child had been shot in the head.

After delivering Reed to the hospital, Griffiths said they returned to the home and waited what he believed to be several hours while law enforcement and the crime lab finished what they needed to do. They then transported Todd’s body to a crime lab in Akron.

Sheriff Brian McLaughlin, who at the time was the lieutenant patrol commander for the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office, said when they initially responded, it had been called in as a shooting. Deputies were concerned the shooter may still be in the house so they went through the house looking first for any suspects or anyone injured besides Todd. Reed had already been placed on the ambulance before they arrived.

Guided by Assistant County Prosecutor Steve Yacovone, McLaughlin pointed out where things were on a sketch of the layout inside of the home and talked about photographs that showed where Todd’s body and Reed had been found. McLaughlin testified he knew Todd was dead when he saw her and “she had a large hole in her forehead above her eye.”

McLaughlin, who also spent many years serving on the Columbiana County Drug Task Force also explained to the jurors about dope sickness and that in 2012 it was common for those who got extra opioid medications like oxycodone to sell it.

Reed’s grandmother Barbara Milson was the final person to testify on Tuesday afternoon. Besides telling jurors about seeing an unknown man in Todd’s house and a green Jeep in the driveway the day before she was murdered, Milson talked about Reed’s life since he was struck twice in the head. His head would swell and they would have to return to the hospital and she said he has needed two brain surgeries and one reconstructive surgery.

Additionally, she testified he has had problems with depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), seizures and anger issues. She noted he can not really go places and insists on sitting where he can see the door at all times.

Testimony in the trial of Kevin Kirby is scheduled to continue this morning.



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