Sun, Mar 07, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Man avoids verdict of murder after shooting prankster

AP , MILLERSBURG, OHIO

A man accused of shooting to death a prankster who threw tomatoes from a cornfield was found guilty of misdemeanor negligent homicide and sentenced to time served.

Marion Weaver, 58, had been charged with murder, which could have resulted in a sentence of 18 years to life in prison. The jury decided on the lesser charge Friday night after 4-and-a-half hours of deliberations.

Weaver, who has been jailed since September, was sentenced to time served by Holmes County Common Pleas Judge Thomas White and given the maximum U$1,000 fine. The charge carried a maximum six-month sentence.

Weaver was found guilty in the Sept. 1 death of Steven Keim, 23, of Apple Creek. Keim was in a group of people throwing tomatoes at passing vehicles, an annual prank in the Holmes-Wayne County area about 130km south of Cleveland that has the largest Amish settlement in the world.

Angry that his car was hit, Weaver came back to the cornfield with a shotgun. He said he had aimed into the air when he fired.

Weaver had been a friend of Keim and his family, a former Amish who had converted to the less-restrictive Mennonite faith, and had often gone fishing and trap shooting with the young man and his father.

Eight teens and three men in their early 20s pleaded guilty to vehicular vandalism in the prank.

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