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Toledo resident, 77, who fatally shot intruder avoids prison

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    Defense attorney Mark Geudtner, left, watches as defendant Gordon Hutson, 77, is sworn in before entering an Alford Plea Tuesday, October 3.

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    Defense attorney Mark Geudtner, right, watches as defendant Gordon Hutson, 77, signs an Alford Plea Tuesday, October 3, in the courtroom of Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gene Zmuda.

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    Gordon Hutson, 77, listens to opening statements at his murder trial Monday, October 2, 2017, in the courtroom of Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gene Zmuda.

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    Attorney Mark Geudtner, left, sits with his client Gordon Hutson, 77, as they listen to the prosecution's opening statement at Mr. Hutson's murder trial Monday, October 2.

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Though he did not send him to prison, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gene Zmuda admonished a 77-year-old East Toledo man for taking the law into his hands when he fatally shot a man who intruded at his home and refused to leave.

“This is just the most recent example of what happens when people in our community choose to try and take the law in their own hands, which is really what you did,” the judge told Gordon Hutson.

“You did it in a way that you thought, I was just trying to protect myself because I know this guy's a drug dealer and he's in my house and he's not supposed to be, and I have a gun, appropriately so, but the law says you can't use that firearm indiscriminately,” Judge Zmuda said. “It goes so far as to say just because you have a gun, it doesn't give you the right, even in your home, to kill someone.”

Hutson of the 700 block of Chesbrough Street entered an Alford plea Oct. 3 and was found guilty of reckless homicide for the March 26 shooting death of Joel Brown, Jr., 29, of Toledo.

Hutson's plea came on the second day of his jury trial for murder. Hutson, who contended he shot Brown in self-defense, apologized for what happened.

Defense attorney Mark Geudtner told the court Hutson was “a friendly, affable, gregarious, homespun, salt-of-the-earth kind of guy” whose home was invaded “by a thug known to him to be a heroin dealer, a burglar, and a bully. The last thing he wanted to do that morning was to hurt someone, anyone, much less cause a death.”

Still, Joseph Gerber, an assistant county prosecutor, said Hutson had several opportunities “to behave as a responsible citizen,” that he could have called police when Brown first showed up at his house.

Judge Zmuda said it was disturbing to him that after firing at Brown, Hutson aggressively marched outside with a baseball bat and threatened Brown again.

“What is it about the community in the time in which we live that a 77-year-old man who works every day of his life takes it upon itself to want to beat the crap out of a guy because he was on his property? That's really what you wanted to do,” the judge said.

Brown had come to Hutson's house to see a woman who had been staying at Hutson's home. She testified that she had bought drugs from Brown but that Hutson did not allow her to use drugs at his house and had forbade Brown from coming there.

The judge said Hutson had been “used” by a known drug addict and therefore ordered him to have no contact with felons.

“Your days of being what you perceive to be the Good Samaritan in the neighborhood are over,” he said.

Members of Brown's family were present in court but did not speak.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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