October 22, 2014

Medina
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Bornino trial: Wife can’t believe her husband shot houses

Medina County Assistant Prosecutor Michael McNamara, left, questions a distraught Becky Bornino, center, at her husband’s trial Wednesday. Her husband, Mark Bornino, is accused of unintentionally hitting two houses a third of a mile away with bullets from a semiautomatic assault rifle he fired in his backyard. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NICK GLUNT)

The tearful wife of a 53-year-old Montville Township man told a Medina County jury Wednesday that she couldn’t believe her husband fired the bullets that hit two houses.

Becky Bornino, of 5544 Windfall Road, said she was inside their home with her toddler son on Jan. 16 when her dog started “going crazy.” She told jurors she went to the front door and saw her husband, Mark Bornino, and his friend, R. Daniel Volpone, being handcuffed by police officers.

Mark Bornino

“I just didn’t know what was happening,” she said.

The two men had been firing an AK-47-type assault rifle at targets in the Borninos’ backyard. They were arrested by Montville Township police responding to two 911 calls from residents who said bullets were hitting their homes on Parnham Drive — about a third of a mile away on the other side of a wooded hill at the back of the Bornino property.

No one was injured, but one family said they had just left their kitchen when a bullet flew through the wall and lodged in an eye-level microwave.

Mark Bornino is charged with firing a gun over a public road, a third-degree felony punishable by up to three years in prison.

Two weeks ago, a jury convicted Volpone of the same charge. Volpone is being held at the Medina County Jail, awaiting sentencing Sept. 16.

Becky Bornino said she couldn’t believe her husband was responsible because he had fired weapons in target practices somewhat regularly since they moved into the home in 2005, and nothing like this had ever happened before.

“I’ve known my husband a very long time, and he always took extra precautions to make sure nothing like this happened,” she told the jury.

The trial began Monday with jury selection, and witness testimony began Tuesday. The prosecution rested its case and the defense started calling witnesses Wednesday.

Becky Bornino told the jury she and her husband knew there were houses down the hill, but didn’t think it was possible bullets could reach there because her husband fired into a ridge in their backyard at a downward angle.

“Can you see houses from your backyard?” asked her husband’s attorney, V. Lee Winchell.

“Absolutely not,” she said.

Her testimony was echoed by Greg Brenstuhl, a neighbor of Bornino’s.

Brenstuhl, who testified for the defense, said he thought it unlikely that bullets hit houses on Parnham Drive because the Bornino property climbs slightly uphill in the backyard, hits a crest and then goes downhill toward Parnham Drive. On that path lie two ponds and two lines of thick trees.

“But anything’s possible,” he said.

Brenstuhl said he often hunts in that area with shotguns and low-caliber rifles, but he’s always careful not to shoot in the direction of houses.

He said he had never used a high-caliber rifle like the one fired by Bornino.

In earlier testimony, Montville Township police Officer Ryan Gibbons said the rounds fired by Bornino’s rifle and the bullets found in the house were the same caliber — 7.62 mm. Gibbons said the bullets could travel more than a mile and were powerful enough to pierce Kevlar vests officers wear.

“It can go through the vest I’m wearing like hot butter,” he said. “I’ve seen it go through cinderblocks.”

Gibbons also testified that he saw Bornino firing the rifle from the hip when he approached the property in January. Firing from the hip is dangerous, Gibbons said, because it severely reduces accuracy for all but the most talented of marksmen.

Gibbons also said it’s possible the bullets hit the houses even if there was not a clear line of sight because they could ricochet. He said he has a piece of metal in his arm from a ricochet at a firing range.

“Even in a safe shooting environment, ricochets are very prevalent,” he said.

Bornino’s trial is set to continue today at 9 a.m.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.