WARREN - The question of the week is, "Who killed Dwayne Hickman?"
At least it is according to the attorneys defending the man accused of stabbing to death 49-year-old Hickman at his Williamsburg Street N.W. residence on March 25.
Trumbull County prosecutors insist that the obvious answer is Richard Clark, who went on trial in a Trumbull County Common Pleas Courtroom this week for Hickman's murder.
Tribune Chronicle / Virginia Shank
Richard Clark appears in court Tuesday during his murder trial.
Defense attorneys are arguing that the prosecution's case against Clark is circumstantial.
Charged with aggravated murder, Clark, 39, is facing a life sentence. After jurors were chosen on Monday, they traveled to Hickman's home, where prosecutors insist Clark stabbed him to death. Jurors also went to the Maryland Street residence where Clark was staying at the time.
Both places provided police with enough evidence to conclude Clark had killed Hickman, Assistant Trumbull County Prosecutor Chris Becker explained.
Becker's comments were made to the jury during opening statements on Tuesday, which also marked the opening day of testimony in the case.
Becker told the jury that over the next several days, he plans to introduce evidence to show that Clark was the last person to see Hickman alive, and that he had in his possession several of Hickman's belongings, including his vehicle, wallet, credit card, cell phone and firearms.
Clark's attorneys, Matt Pentz and David Rouzzo, are arguing that the prosecution's case has several holes in it, including the fact that there are no eyewitnesses to the murder who can testify that they saw Clark kill Hickman and that the evidence presented will support there are possibilities other than Clark.
Clark has been described by police as a somewhat homeless man who worked as a tattoo artist.
The trial is being heard by Common Pleas Judge Ronald Rice.
Warren police discovered Hickman's body, which had been stabbed close to a dozen times, at his Williamsburg Street N.W. home after a family member asked them to check on him.
Police are among the list of witnesses Becker said he plans to call to the stand this week.
Becker told the jury that the Maryland Street woman Clark had been staying with, Melody McGlothlin, had no ties to Hickman other than Clark therefore the items belonging to Hickman that were found at her home could have only gotten there through Clark, who had also stayed at Hickman's home periodically.
Becker said the prosecution also intends to call state forensic experts who will show that blood found on Clark's shirt was Hickman's. He told the jury that investigators found at Hickman's home, which showed no sign of forced entry, a trash bag with a broken knife and a bloodied sweater that a witness would identify as one Clark had been wearing.
Becker told jury members they would hear testimony from a witness that Clark had told her he would not want to live like the disabled Hickman did.
She would also testify that Clark had seen her give Hickman money, Becker said. He noted that investigators found Hickman's wallet in his car, which was parked at the Maryland Street residence where Clark was discovered inside suffering from a heroin overdose, which landed him in the hospital in a coma for about a week.
The trial is expected to last about a week.
Police said previously that Hickman and Clark had a history and that Clark had also stayed at Hickman's home periodically.
Since 1993, Clark, who is being held in lieu of $1 million bond, had been charged with various crimes, including drug-related offenses, endangering children, theft, receiving stolen property, attempted burglary, stealing a car, unauthorized use of a car, resisting arrest and carrying a concealed weapon.