DELAWARE, Ohio - A Delaware County judge ruled yesterday that there wasn't enough evidence to continue the trial of former Ohio State football standout Jim Stillwagon, clearing the two-time All-American of all charges connected with a shooting last year.
DELAWARE, Ohio — A Delaware County judge ruled yesterday that there wasn’t enough evidence to continue the trial of former Ohio State football standout Jim Stillwagon, clearing the two-time All-American of all charges connected with a shooting last year.
Delaware Common Pleas Judge Duncan Whitney dismissed the three remaining counts of felonious assault with a firearm against Stillwagon during the third day of his trial. Whitney had dismissed a fourth count earlier this week.
Stillwagon, 64, said he felt relieved and vindicated by the ruling, but his legal troubles stemming from the shooting are not over: The man he was accused of assaulting filed a civil suit this month seeking damages for his hospital bills. That case is pending.
Stillwagon, one of the “Super Sophs” who led the 1968 Buckeyes to a national championship, had been charged with shooting at a man after a 14-mile back-and-forth motorcycle-truck chase starting near Dublin and ending in Delaware on Sept. 30, 2012.
The man, Richard Mattingly of Geauga County in northeastern Ohio, testified during the trial that he had been drinking both before and during the chase, and said he had been driving “like an idiot,” following Stillwagon’s motorcycle closely, brake-checking him and cutting him off.
Stillwagon followed Mattingly to a parking lot off Rt. 23 in Delaware and fired at Mattingly’s truck. Stillwagon then hit Mattingly in the head with the butt of his gun. As he did so, the gun discharged and a bullet grazed Mattingly’s head. Mattingly checked himself out of the hospital that night.
Stillwagon’s attorneys argued that Mattingly used his truck as a weapon and Stillwagon shot at him in self-defense. Earlier this week, they asked the judge for a mistrial; yesterday, they asked that Whitney find Stillwagon not guilty because prosecutors had not proved that Stillwagon ever intended to shoot at Mattingly.
Whitney agreed, writing in his ruling that “reasonable minds could not differ.”
At least one of the jurors who would have ruled on the case agreed.
“We got a guy that shot somebody, and I guess the police have to make an example — we can’t have people running around shooting people,” said Bill McKahan, who served on the jury. “But this case should never have gone to trial.”
Stillwagon said he intends to continue working at the company he owns with his wife and to put the criminal case behind him.
Calls to Mattingly and his attorney were not returned yesterday.