David Zielinski claimed he just wanted to “go back home and be with my wife” when he went to her West Central Avenue house about 2 a.m. July 14 and fatally shot the man who was in bed with her.
Taking the stand in his own defense Wednesday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, Mr. Zielinski told the jury he took a gun and a knife with him the night he drove from his mother’s home in Swanton Township to his estranged wife’s home. He said he knew his wife, Amber Hayes, had been seeing Michael Jackson, a 20-year-old he believed sold drugs.
“I had it in my mind of going there and, if the guy was there, kicking him out and see what’s going on with my wife,” Mr. Zielinski said. “I miss my wife, and it’s my life. It’s what I built up to.”
Mr. Zielinski, 34, of 3859 Berkey Southern Rd. is charged with aggravated murder for Mr. Jackson’s death, the kidnapping and attempted murder of Ms. Hayes, and aggravated burglary for climbing through a window at her house that night.
Mr. Zielinski testified he tried to use a key to get into the house he still considered his home. But he had the wrong key and entered through an open first-floor window. The defendant said he could hear his wife having sex upstairs, so he waited in the living room for about five minutes then went upstairs and confronted the couple.
He said after he told Mr. Jackson to leave, Mr. Jackson called him a name and punched him, prompting him to “poke” him in the leg with the knife he was carrying. He said Mr. Jackson ran the knife into his leg.
“I’m sorry, but you know, I came unglued,” Mr. Zielinski said. “I pulled the pistol out, and I believe the face was the first part he got shot at. I stabbed him again.”
Mr. Zielinski admitted he shot Mr. Jackson several more times but insisted, “I did not go up there planning to kill anybody. I didn’t know what the heck to do. I’m just thinking, how is this going to look?”
Under cross-examination by Ian English, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, Mr. Zielinski admitted to most of the elements of the crime, but said things did not happen the way Ms. Hayes claimed when she testified Tuesday.
He said that he and Ms. Hayes left the house in her car, but he fired two shots “at her leg” as she tried to drive away when she had a chance to flee because he thought she was trying to run him over. He said he fired two more shots at the car as she drove off because his knife was in the car, and he wanted it back.
While Mr. Zielinski described what he called a “tussle” with Mr. Jackson, Dr. Diane Scala-Barnett, a deputy Lucas County coroner, testified earlier Wednesday that the six gunshots that hit Mr. Jackson came in rapid succession. All entry and exit wounds indicated the bullets traveled in the same direction, she said.
“That tells me the wounds came in very close proximity to one another — boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,” Dr. Scala-Barnett said, explaining that the victim would not have had time to react or move between shots.
She said two of the shots passed through the victim’s heart and clearly would have been fatal. Dr. Scala-Barnett also said toxicology testing revealed he had cocaine and a metabolite in his system when he died, indicating that he had ingested cocaine within 24 to 36 hours before his death.
“Did the cocaine in Michael Jackson’s system kill him?” Lindsay Navarre, an assistant prosecutor, asked her.
“No,” Dr. Scala-Barnett replied.
“What did kill him?” Ms. Navarre asked.
“Multiple gunshot wounds,” she replied.
Closing arguments in the case are set for 10 a.m. today.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.