April 23, 2014

Medina
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Bornino trial: Jury to continue deliberations today

MEDINA — A Medina County jury this morning will continue deliberating the fate of a Montville Township man accused of hitting two homes with bullets from an AK-47-type semiautomatic assault rifle in January.

Mark Bornino, 53, of 5544 Windfall Road, is charged with firing a gun over a public road, a third-degree felony punishable by up to three years in prison.

Rittman attorney V. Lee Winchell, left, questions his client, Mark Bornino, on Thursday in Medina County Common Pleas Court. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NICK GLUNT)

The six-man, six-woman jury deliberated four hours Thursday without reaching a verdict and will reconvene today at 8:45 a.m.

No one was injured in the Jan. 16 incident. However, a Montville police sergeant reported hearing shots whizzing by his head, and a family living on Parnham Drive said they had just left the kitchen when a bullet struck their home and lodged in a microwave mounted at eye level.

In order to find Bornino guilty, the jury has to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Bornino fired the gun with “heedless indifference” for the consequences, or that he contributed to his friend recklessly firing the gun.

Another jury convicted Bornino’s friend, R. Daniel Volpone, on an identical charge two weeks ago. Volpone, 45, of Parma, is awaiting his Sept. 16 sentencing in the county jail.

Volpone owned the semiautomatic assault rifle and brought it to Bornino’s property for target practice.

On Thursday, the third day of testimony, Bornino told the jury he has shot from his yard in that same direction for nearly nine years without incident.

“Where would you shoot from?” asked his attorney, V. Lee. Winchell.

“In the exact place I was shooting the day I got arrested,” Bornino said.

The defendant said he heard others shooting in the area “almost every day.”

Bornino said he knew there were houses there, but didn’t think it was possible he could hit them.

The houses hit were a half-mile away through a patch of downhill woods.

County Assistant Prosecutor Michael McNamara asked Bornino if he ever used a proper backstop while shooting to ensure he didn’t hit those houses.

“Yes,” Bornino said. “Three, to be exact.”

Bornino said he thought the ground in his yard, the distance between his property and the houses that were hit, and a hill near the houses were sufficient backstops.

Police officers told the jury earlier in the trial that proper backstops are made of metal and should be 30 feet tall, with walls on the sides as well to stop bullets if they ricochet.

Police also said they saw Bornino firing the weapon “from the hip,” which severely reduces accuracy.

On the stand, Bornino denied he did that.

When firing, Bornino said he could see the bullets lodging in the ground, so he was sure he didn’t hit any of the houses.

He said he couldn’t be sure, though, that his friend’s bullets didn’t hit them.

At one point, Bornino said Volpone was alone while he used the restroom and drank a cup of tea.

“I don’t know what Dan did while I was in there,” Bornino said.

Bornino’s attorney said police couldn’t prove bullets from Volpone’s gun were the ones that hit the houses.

The caliber of bullet used in the gun — 7.62 mm — were found lodged in the houses, but were too damaged for forensic scientists from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to say conclusively they came from Volpone’s gun.

McNamara asked Bornino whether he heard or saw bullets flying over his head from another shooter farther away.

Bornino said no.

McNamara then asked how bullets could have come from the direction of Bornino’s property.

Bornino said wind could have redirected them.

Winchell suggested Tuesday that the bullets could have come from hunters, but admitted Thursday during closing arguments that it was unlikely.

“I can’t say for sure, but it’s pretty reasonable to think the bullets came from this gun,” he said.

Still, Winchell said if Bornino did hit those houses, he didn’t do it purposely.

“No one says he intentionally hit those houses,” McNamara countered. “That’s not what this crime is.

“The issue here is recklessness.”

McNamara said Bornino took classes to carry a concealed weapon, so he was well versed in firearm safety.

“He knows how to safely operate a firearm,” McNamara said, “and he knows he didn’t in this case.”

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