‘In fear for my life’: Ivery takes stand to recount night off-duty officer was killed

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AKRON, Ohio -- Kenan Ivery took the stand Wednesday, the only witness called by his attorneys in his defense.

The defense rested at shortly after noon.

Ivery, 36, admits firing the shots that killed Akron Police Officer Justin Winebrenner on November 16, 2014.

Winebrenner was off duty with friends at Papa Don's Pub in Akron where Ivery was asked to leave because he was making some of the female customers uncomfortable.

Prosecutors say minutes after he left, Ivery returned with a .40 caliber handgun, angry and feeling disrespected for having already been kicked out.

Ivery testified on Wednesday that he had the gun the entire time he was at Papa Don's Pub, not just after he returned the second time.

He admitted under oath that he was not legally permitted to even have a gun because of previous drug related convictions.

"Why do you have a weapon?" asked defense attorney Kerry Obrien.

"Personal protection because my younger brother was murdered in 2011 and for personal protection because I had been robbed a couple of times," answered Ivery.

Ivery testified that when he first arrived at Papa Don's he was in a great mood, having come from a fundraiser for his son's football team.

Ivery denies getting aggressive in any way with any of the women at the bar.

Ivery testified that "he was kind of shocked and a little disappointed" when he was asked to leave.

Ivery testified that he got about a mile from the bar when he realized he left his wings at the bar and decided to go back.

When he was asked why he returned to the bar after having been kicked out he testified that he didn't feel he had been kicked out but that he "was asked to leave."

Ivery testified that when he returned to the bar he was not looking for trouble.

He admits having the weapon with him at the time.

With Ivery on the stand, his defense attorney played a surveillance video that jurors have seen many times during the first week of the trial.

The video shows Ivery returning to the bar and immediately confronted by a customer named David Wolcoty.

He testified that Wolcoty made a threatening statement to him regarding one of the female customers.

Ivery admits pulling up his jacket to flash his gun "to show him I don't want to mess with him, I have a weapon," said Ivery.

Ivery admits flashing his gun a second time, but testified he had not drawn the weapon.

Winebrenner was still seated in the middle of the bar at the time.

Ivery said he moved into the bar to create some distance between himself and Dave Wolcoty.

He testified he was moving toward the end of the bar where he remembered leaving his wings. Moments later Winebrenner approached him from his left side.

Ivery says Winebrenner "started physically touching me."

Another customer, David Eisele, then also started approaching him from the bar.

"Are there any shots fired at this point?"  asked Obrien.

"No," answered Ivery. "Had you drawn your weapon at this point?"

"No," said Ivery.

"What's going through your mind?" asked Obrien.

"Right now fear," answered Ivery.

Ivery said he was now surrounded but he couldn't leave because he was 'boxed in'. Ivery says he was being forced backwards, testifying that he was thrown over a table by Eisele.

It was at that point he admits drawing his weapon.

"Because they was reaching...and I didn't want them to get it," said Ivery.

Jurors then see him falling toward the exit of the bar as shots are fired.

"I'm still feeling hands going for my weapon, that's when I was in fear for my life." he testified.

"When I was falling that's when my fear hit its high point," said Ivery.

Ivery says after he was outside he ran because he was still afraid.

"My gun fell out of my hand and I was scared they could pick it up and shoot me," Ivery testified.

Ivery testified that as he was trying to hide in an overgrown field nearby he had no idea a police officer was shot.

"Did you have any idea that anyone was shot," asked Obrien.

"No," answered Ivery.

In more than a week of testimony, including enhanced still pictures from the same surveillance video, prosecutors have argued that no-one touched Ivery until after his gun was drawn.

Winebrenner was shot twice and died from his wounds.

Four other people inside the bar, Including Wolcoty and Eisele, were either shot or grazed by bullets fired from Ivery's gun.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty if Ivery is convicted of the most serious of the charges against him.

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