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Necktie killing: Murder or accident?

Necktie killing: Murder or accident?

Roger Tucker killed 83-year-old Herbert Abraham, Tucker's attorneys admitted Tuesday, but they told Hamilton County jurors Tucker shouldn't face the death penalty because he didn't mean to strangle Abraham with neckties.

"The issue is whether it was his specific intent to kill (Abraham)," Tucker attorney Perry Ancona told jurors Tuesday.

Prosecutors scoffed at that assertion, saying Abraham is dead only because Tucker wanted to leave no witnesses behind during a burglary that would send him back to prison.

"There's only one reason in this case for that necktie to be tied around his neck and you all know what that reason is. It's to kill him," assistant prosecutor Gerald Krumpelbeck countered.

Tucker is on trial for his life, charged with the aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery of Abraham in the man's East Price Hill condo May 30, 2008.

Tucker was out of prison just a short time when he knocked on random doors in Abraham's condo complex, hoping to find one with no one home so he could rob it and sell the items for drug money.

But when Tucker broke into the condo in the 2500 block of Warsaw Ave., he was surprised by Abraham, who was getting out of the bath he took at 5 p.m. each evening.

Tucker, who already had cut the telephone lines, grabbed at least two neckties and a belt and forced the naked elderly man to his bedroom, where Abraham was tied around his neck, hands and feet.

Tucker assured Abraham, he told police, he wouldn't hurt him and then left to commit other burglaries.

But a coroner testified last week that Abraham died within minutes of being bound so tightly around the neck that Abraham suffered a broken vertebrae and hyoid, a small bone in the front of the neck.

"He had him hogtied. Why do hogs get tied up? Because they get led to slaughter," assistant prosecutor Kevin Hardman told jurors.

Jurors, hearing the case before Common Pleas Court Judge Jody Luebbers, almost surely will have to convict Tucker of at least aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and aggravated murder - carrying a 30-year prison sentence - because Tucker's attorneys admitted in their Tuesday closing arguments their client was guilty of those crimes.

The goal for Tucker's attorneys, Ancona and Norm Aubin, is to save Tucker from the fate Tucker imposed on Abraham - death.

Unless the jury convicts Tucker of an aggravated murder count - instead of straight murder that denotes they don't believe he intended to kill Abraham - Tucker won't face the death penalty prosecutors are seeking.

Tucker told police days after the killing that he wrapped the tie around Abraham's neck to scare him.

Prosecutors insist he did it to silence the only witness against him.

"He's scared of getting caught. And how do you not get caught? You eliminate the witnesses," Krumpelbeck said.

The jury will be sequestered until a decision is made. If jurors find Tucker intended to kill Abraham, a second phase of the trial will begin where jurors will decide if Tucker goes to death row or to prison for life.

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