MEDINA — A common pleas jury convicted a 45-year-old Parma man Thursday of unintentionally hitting two Montville Township houses with bullets from a semiautomatic assault rifle in January.
A jury found R. Daniel Volpone guilty after deliberating 1½ hours. Jury selection began Monday and his trial started Wednesday.
Volpone was accused of firing a gun over a public road, a third-degree felony punishable by up to three years in prison.
Volpone will await his Sept. 16 sentencing hearing in the county jail.
During his trial before county Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier, Volpone testified he and his friend, Mark Bornino, 53, fired the gun at paper targets without a backstop Jan. 16 in Bornino’s backyard, 5544 Windfall Road, Montville Township.
The bullets traveled a third of a mile — downhill and through a patch of woods — before hitting the houses on Parnham Road. He said he fired at a downward angle, expecting the bullets would get caught in the ground.
No one was injured, but one resident testified she had just left her kitchen when a bullet pierced her home and became lodged in a mounted, eye-level microwave.
Bornino’s trial is scheduled to start Aug. 12 in Collier’s court.
At the core of Volpone’s case was whether he acted recklessly.
Volpone’s attorney, David Sheldon, said his client didn’t know there were houses beyond the woods because he wasn’t from the area, and said Volpone even checked whether there were.
County Assistant Prosecutor Michael McNamara said Volpone could have done more to ensure the safety of others that day.
“This case is about Daniel Volpone being responsible for shooting that weapon,” McNamara told the jurors during closing arguments Thursday. “Just because you can’t see a bullet doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for it. That’s just not true.”
McNamara said Volpone may have been intoxicated from 1½ beers found at the scene, but police and Volpone denied that the alcohol affected him.
Sheldon said there is a difference between recklessness and negligence.
“He was negligent: He didn’t know there were houses back there,” Sheldon said of Volpone. “But he wasn’t reckless.”
He said his client took all the necessary precautions, such as aiming downward.
“If he looked back there and saw houses and still fired the gun, then I submit to you that he acted recklessly,” Sheldon said. “But does Dan know there are houses back there? Absolutely not.”
According to Ohio law, a person is reckless when he or she “pervasively disregards” a risk with “heedless indifference” that could cause harm to another.
McNamara and Sheldon could not be reached for comment after the verdict.
Volpone, who works as an armed guard and has taken 20 hours of Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy classes as part of his job, said on the stand he was glad no one was hurt that day.
“I didn’t know there were any houses to hit,” he said. “I thought we had taken all the precautions to be safe.”
Jurors were reluctant to comment on the verdict, but one said she was “chilled” by the case. She declined to say more.
Mary Kuruc, whose house was hit by the bullets, said she thought justice was served.
“Maybe now Mr. Volpone will know the consequences of his actions,” she said.
Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.