Apr. 19—A trial for a Monroe man who is accused of stabbing his roommate to death in May will begin in Butler County Common Pleas Court today.
Peyton Michael Joseph McFarland, 21, was arrested on May 31, 2020, a day after the homicide, and charged with murder. McFarland was later indicted for murder and felonious assault in the slaying of Christopher Hacker, 31.
McFarland's trial was scheduled to begin in January, but was rescheduled due to coronavirus concerns.
Judge Jennifer McElfresh has requested 60 prospective jurors, and selection will begin this afternoon. The trial will take place in a courtroom on the fourth floor of the court wing that is specially fitted with Plexiglas as a pandemic precaution
According to court records and the 911 call, McFarland confessed to stabbing Hacker during an argument. Schiavone IV said evidence at trial will show that McFarland acted in self-defense and Hacker had drugs in his system at the time of death.
In the 911 call, McFarland identifies himself to the dispatcher in a strained, out-of-breath voice.
"I need an ambulance," he says in the call. "I attacked a person that I was living with, I need an officer to come and arrest me."
In the 911 calls, McFarland says he used a weapon and stabbed Hacker in the shoulder. Hacker ran from the scene, according to McFarland, who told dispatchers he put the weapon on the ground outside and said he would lie down and wait for officers.
Hacker was taken to Atrium Medical Center, where he died.
Monroe police said McFarland told investigators he went into his room and retrieved a knife/axe combination weapon, then confronted Hacker in the hallway.
Schiavone said the argument between McFarland and Hacker began over dirty dishes in the sink. The attorney said Hacker was a much larger man than McFarland, and when he became upset, McFarland was in his room playing video games with the door shut.
"The evidence is going to show he (McFarland) was attacked and he was in fear for his life and acted in self-defense," Schiavone said. "He has never wavered from that. That's what he told the police multiple times that night."
Assistant Prosecutor Jon Marshall declined comment, noting the evidence will be presented in court and the jury will decide the case.
"I am not going to try this case to the media and I am not going to get into factual assertions prior to any witness testifying ," Marshall said.