Frank and Jackie Gascal don't sleep with the windows open anymore, one of the sacrifices they made after they were victimized in their former East Toledo home.
“We’ve been traumatized,” Mrs. Gascal said after a court hearing. “Everyone thinks it won’t happen to them.”
In 2011, an intruder broke into their home and shot Gascal in the face and also pointed a gun at his wife. But the two said they felt some satisfaction as Xzavier Matthews was found guilty on Monday in the home invasion.
It’s been “nerve-racking,” Gascal said after hearing the verdicts read by Judge Myron Duhart of Lucas County Common Pleas Court. “I’m glad it worked out the way it did.”
Matthews, 22, of 711 Pearl St. was convicted of aggravated burglary, felonious assault, aggravated robbery, and grand theft of a motor vehicle for the Aug. 28, 2011, break-in at the Gascals’ former home on Colorado Street. Three of the charges included specifications that Matthews used a gun to commit the crimes — specifications that each could add a mandatory three years to his sentence.
Mrs. Gascal took the witness stand during Matthews’ three-day bench trial earlier this month, telling the court that she and her husband were watching television that night when she got up to put her pajamas on and found a man wearing a black hoodie and holding a gun in the hallway.
She screamed, “Who are you? What do you want?” prompting her husband to jump off the couch, round the corner to the hallway, and tackle the intruder. During the struggle, Gascal testified, he discovered the intruder had a gun, which fired twice. A bullet struck him near the corner of his right eye, passing through his left cheek and into his left arm.
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He told the court he was unable to see his assailant and could not identify him, but his wife testified that she was “100 percent sure” Matthews was the intruder. He ordered her at gunpoint to hand over her car keys and then to load the couple’s television and Blu-ray player into the car. Matthews also took her cell phone as she tried to call 911.
Mrs. Gascal said after Monday’s hearing that the incident shattered her sense of security.
While the couple decided to leave Toledo and subsequently moved to Maumee, Gascal said he can’t leave the windows open at night because of his wife’s fear that something like this could happen again. Investigators said they believed Matthews entered their house through an open bedroom window.
Judge Duhart, who scheduled sentencing for May 28, also found Matthews guilty of burglary for an unrelated break-in at the 115th Street home of Douglas Ducat on Aug. 8, 2011.
Matthews previously was convicted in Wood County Common Pleas Court in 2012 and ordered to spend eight years in prison for a strikingly similar case to the Gascal burglary. Just two days after the Gascal incident, Matthews was accused of burglarizing and setting fire to a Northwood home.
In that incident, authorities said Matthews pulled a gun on the homeowner, said “it’s not personal,” and then fled in a white minivan. Some of the original charges were dropped in that case after Matthews agreed to plead guilty.
In the Aug. 28 case involving the Gascals, the judge acquitted Matthews on a charge of attempted murder, saying he did not think Matthews purposely intended to try to kill Gascal.
“This court believes that ... Matthews was there at the 1653 Colorado residence to commit aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery, and in the process of committing those offenses, he committed felonious assault and theft of a motor vehicle,” Judge Duhart said. “This court specifically relies upon the testimony of ... Gascal [who] indicated that when he blindly jumped off the couch and went around the corner and began to struggle with the defendant, that he indicates ‘he grabbed the pistol and it went off,’ which certainly suggests that ... Matthews did not act purposely with specific intention.”
Judge Duhart reviewed the evidence and testimony presented during the trial before announcing his verdicts. He said he found Mrs. Gascal’s testimony to be very credible, but did not believe Matthews, who testified he’d never been to the Colorado Street house.
Defense attorney Peter Wagner said afterward that he was reserving comment until after the sentencing.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.