AKRON, Ohio – The boyfriend of murder victim Hannah Hill testified he was abusive towards her, but he didn’t kill her.
Brad O’Born, now 32, dated Hill back in 1999 during the time of her murder.
O’Born testified for the prosecution Wednesday at the re-trial of Hill’s accused killer, Denny Ross.
Hill’s dead body was found in the trunk of her car on Caine Road following a five-day search.
O’Born admitted to having an argument with Hill before she vanished, but he said arguments between the two were not uncommon because he was under the influence of drugs on a daily basis.
Ross’ attorney, Roger Synenberg, told the jury during opening statement on Monday that when questioned by police in 1999 O’Born had scratches and bruises about his body. Synenberg implicated O’Born as a more likely suspect in Hill’s murder than Ross.
Wednesday, when asked if he killed Hill, O’Born replied, “Absolutely not.”
Ross was first tried for Hill’s murder in 2000, but the judge declared it a mistrial after the jury was found to be discussing a lie detector test that was not admitted in court.
It was later revealed the jury would have found Ross not guilty.
In 2004, Ross was convicted for the rape and attempted murder of another Akron woman and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The Supreme Court ruled that Ross could be re-tried for Hill’s murder, but could not face the death penalty.
O’Born said he met Ross when he was offered an opportunity to stay at Ross’ apartment during a time when he was, “couch surfing.”
He testified that he stayed there for only a few months, exchanging drugs for rent. It was during that time that Hill and Ross met.
Ross was tried for Hill’s murder in 2000 but the trial ended in a mistrial.
O’Born admitted today under questioning that he has a criminal history which includes trafficking, robbery and grand theft. At the time of Hill’s murder O’Born testified that he was dealing drugs. He told the jury that he stole from his own mother saying, “I was insane at that time. I was out of my mind. I didn’t have my drugs and there was no other option for me.”
He now says he has been treated for an addiction to numerous drugs, including heroin, but added that after many years of struggles he is now, “Clean and sober.”
When Hill’s mother testified on Monday she said that she felt her daughter’s personality changed after she started dating O’Born. Hill’s mother told the jury that she didn’t trust him.
O’Born admitted there was a strained relationship with Hill’s family.
“They didn’t like me,” O’Born testified.
O’Born later told the jury that he and Hill, “Connected really good.” But said it was months before their relationship became intimate.
O’Born became tearful on the stand when he described to jury his treatment of Hill during their time together.
“I was not a good boyfriend,” O’Born said. “I was abusive.”
Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Anna Faraglia then asked, “What does that mean?”
“I abused her,” said O’Born.
“Did you verbally abuse her?” asked Faraglia.
“Yes,” testified O’Born.
Faraglia then asked, “Did you physically abuse her?”
O’Born responded, “Yes.”
O’Born said his drug use and cheating upset Hill.
He also described a fight he and Hill had.
“She was very angry and she attacked me, she was drunk and I was drinking and she was mad and it got physical,” O’Born said.
Prosecutors in their opening statements on Monday portrayed O’Born as being very much in love with Hill.
O’Born said he was surprised when Ross was arrested for Hill’s murder.
The prosecution claims Ross was also smitten by Hill, but she ignored his advances.
“I really didn’t think Denny would kill anybody,” O’Born said on the stand.
He added that he wanted to take revenge that day, and drove by Ross’ home but did not stop because police were there.
Faraglia told the jury on Monday that O’Born was desperate in the days following Hill’s disappearance. She stated that he was in constant contact with police and that he was accessible at all times during the investigation.