Jury Deliberates Firefighter Stabbing Case

The defense attorney for the man accused of trying to kill two firefighters downtown last June asked jurors to set aside their personal feelings about first responders and acquit his client, Ryan Allen Jones.

“Self-defense is a complete defense to all these charges,” Defense Attorney Thomas Bahr told the jury Monday during his closing remarks.

The jury received the case by midday Monday and began deliberating in the afternoon.

Jones testified last week that he feared for his life when he pulled out a large hunting knife and attacked unarmed firefighters Ben Vernon and Alex Wallbrett at a medical aid call at the Park and Market trolley station on June 24 last year.

In his closing remarks, Deputy District Attorney Steven Schott held up the large hunting knife used in the alleged assault asking the jury: “Would someone jab this this killing instrument into someone’s body over and over again if their intent was not to kill someone?”

Much of the trial focused on body camera footage the prosecution says shows Vernon backing away with his hands up and Jones stepping in to stab him repeatedly.

Last week, Jones testified he was trying to provide information to firefighters about a patient they were assisting when a fire captain pushed him over a bench, causing Jones to hit his head. When Jones got up, he said he was confused and surrounded by MTS officers who pepper-sprayed him as he tried to flee.

Jones said he had cloudy vision and feared he was about to be beaten, possibly shot, when he pulled out his knife and stabbed Vernon, not knowing who he was attacking.

The defense’s case has also hinged on their assertion that the firefighters were acting outside the scope of their duties when they pursued Jones, and that they should have waited for police.

Bahr said video evidence shows Jones fled a safe distance away from the firefighters after their captain shoved him.

“A fire captain is supposed to extinguish fires not light them,” Bahr said.

The prosecutor played surveillance video several times for the jury of Jones falling over the bench saying it clearly shows he never hit his head. Schott told the jury if they determine the defendant lied about something significant, like hitting his head, they should consider not believing anything else he said.

Schott also reminded the jury about firefighter testimony that their primary duty is to protect the public, proposing a hypothetical situation of firefighters arriving on the scene of a person performing CPR on a patient incorrectly and refusing to stop.

“According to the defense’s theory, even though they know that patient is in danger, sorry, you’ve got to run for the hills. Go sit in the fire engine,” Schott said.

The deputy district attorney said a picture is worth a thousand words and the images of Jones stabbing Vernon do not depict a person that is disoriented or blinded.

Last week, the jury heard heartfelt testimony from those two firefighters who were attacked that day in the line of duty. Wallbrett had rushed to Vernon's aid and Jones then stabbed Wallbrett several times before a fire engineer stopped him.

Vernon and Wallbrett testified about how the stabbing took not just a physical toll but how they have suffered emotionally since the assault.

Both said it was not being able to protect each other that was the unbearable part of that day.

Vernon sat quietly through the closing remarks Monday.

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