A jury found 39-year-old Knoxville resident Steven Dean McGinnis guilty of murder in the first degree Friday at the Marion County courthouse. In the first murder trial in at least five years in Marion County, the atmosphere both before and after the verdict was heavy with silence, as Mr. McGinnis sat facing the bench with folded hands and a fixed gaze.
Deliberation lasted less than a day. McGinnis’ defense argued during the trial that McGinnis, a Gulf-War veteran diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, was having some kind of PTSD episode when he shot Knoxville resident Robert Ohl, and did not know the consequences of his actions.
However, that was not enough to convince the jury, with the state arguing that McGinnis was fully aware of his actions when he went into his trailer, loaded and chambered his shotgun, went back outside, and shot a seated Ohl three times. The state also argued the fact that McGinnis left the scene and called multiple people saying he had shot Ohl was evidence he knew the difference between right and wrong, and was not experiencing a PTSD-caused hallucination or reliving of a traumatic event.
Marion County Attorney Terry Rachels told KNIA/KRLS News moments after the verdict that given the evidence, he thought it was an appropriate verdict. McGinnis’ defense attorney Richard Phelps was not immediately available for comment.
A sentencing date for McGinnis is set for October 23rd.
“I didn’t do it just to do it. I did it because my life was in danger.” That’s what 39-year-old Knoxville resident Steven Dean McGinnis told law enforcement in September, 2008, the night Robert Ohl was found dead from multiple shotgun wounds.