By SHELLEY TERRY - firstname.lastname@example.org
Eugene Falls looked down as he listened to the victim of his alleged carjacking and kidnapping case speak on the witness stand Friday about her ordeal.
The 37-year-old Geneva resident shook his head in a ‘no’ manner and looked back at his family members seated in the courtroom as the 23-year-old female victim broke down and cried during Falls’ preliminary hearing in Municipal Court.
Falls’ attorney, Jane Timonere, had just asked her, “Were you injured?”
The court took a short break before the victim resumed testimony of the terror she felt only a week earlier when Falls jumped in her fiancé’s truck at the Lake Avenue Circle K store around 11 p.m. and sped away with her in the passenger’s seat.
“I started screaming and blowing the horn,” she said. “He had me pinned down. He told me he had a gun and he wouldn’t hesitate to kill me.”
The woman said he repeated the threats and she believed him even though she never actually saw a gun.
“He was going to kill me,” she said.
Ashtabula Police Officer Daniel Gillespie said he spent most of his shift that night (Feb. 2) “canvassing for the vehicle” that was carjacked from the Circle K.
He testified that an Ashtabula County Sheriff’s deputy found the truck more than two hours later at Interstate 90 and Route 11. The driver then led three officers — the deputy, Gillespie and an Ohio State Highway patrolman — on a slippery, high-speed chase through stop signs that ended in Ashtabula Township when the truck slid off the road in the area of East 51st Street and Osborne Avenue.
The driver, later identified as Falls, bailed out of the vehicle, but was arrested after a brief foot pursuit, Gillespie said.
Upon re-examination from Ashtabula City Assistant Prosecutor Lori Lamer, the female victim said Falls stole her wallet, cash, credit cards and identification.
She also said when the chase was over, she stayed in the truck until a police officer told her she could come out.
Police have said the woman was “traumatized” and was transported to the hospital.
Falls faces five felony counts of kidnapping, robbery and failure to comply, as well as two felony counts of theft, according to Municipal Court records. The case was bound over to the Ashtabula County Grand Jury.
Falls is being held on a $300,000 cash/surety bond set by Judge Albert Camplese, court records show.