For seven years, Houston Hart III worked as the head cook at St. Paul’s Community Center, seemingly without any problems.
But on April 25, he “lost his cool, snapped, went out of character,” shooting Louis Barton — a man with whom he’d argued that mor-ning — outside the center, Mark Herr, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said in court Tuesday.
Hart, 27, of 2338 Rockspring Rd. pleaded no contest to felonious assault with a firearm specification. He was found guilty by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Bates, who scheduled sentencing for Aug. 28.
Hart faces up to eight years in prison for felonious assault and a mandatory three-year term for the gun specification. As part of a plea agreement, a charge of attempted murder is to be dismissed.
Mr. Herr told the court it remains unclear what sparked the argument between Hart and Barton, 39. What he knows, he said, is that Barton had gone inside the community center, 230 13th St., about 9 a.m. and stayed briefly.
When Barton emerged, Hart followed him outside. Mr. Herr said the two men became embroiled in a heated argument. At one point, Barton and another man walked away.
“Unfortunately, beforehand, [Barton] made some threats — very serious threats — according to some witnesses,” Mr. Herr said. “Some witnesses said they didn’t hear any threats. One witness said he heard the victim say he was going to retrieve a gun and shoot Mr. Hart.”
Another witness said Barton claimed to have shot and killed three people, gone to prison, and was willing to go back. Mr. Herr said Hart went to his car, got a gun from the trunk, and shot Barton three times: once in the arm, once in the side, and once in the neck.
“I think it’s important to note that after the shooting, the defendant walked to his residence a couple blocks away, called the authorities, told them what he had done, and asked them to come and arrest him, which they did,” Mr. Herr said.
Judge Bates allowed Hart to remain free on $50,000 bond until his sentencing.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.