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Felonious assault trial underway

In the case of an attack on an Ironton attorney this past July, it will be up to a jury to decide whether the incident was an unprovoked assault or an act of self-defense.

The felonious assault trial of Robert “Bobby” Harper, 37, began Monday with opening statements from the prosecution and defense, as well as testimony from seven witnesses, including the victim.

Harper was charged with the second-degree felony on July 21 after he allegedly assaulted local attorney Jason Smith at his bar, the Fuzzy Duck.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Robert Anderson told the jury Harper came to the bar that day to retrieve his keys and wallet from Smith’s wife, Kelly, who had been having an affair with Harper. Kelly had the night before left Harper and stayed with her estranged husband.

Harper arrived with Kelly’s father, James Greco, who offered to help Harper get his belongings.

Smith knew Harper was coming to the bar, Anderson said, and hid his gun in the waistband on his pants.

“Was it your purpose for no one else to know you had it?” Anderson asked Smith of the gun.

“I had no idea what he would do once he got there,” Smith said.

Smith testified he was sitting on a barstool when Harper arrived.

He started walking toward me,” Smith said. “I saw my father-in-law was behind him. He stuck his hand out as if he was going to shake my hand.”

Smith said he remembered thinking it was odd that Harper wanted to shake hands.

And that would be the last moment Smith testified to remembering.

According to testimony from Greco and Smith’s wife, Harper punched Smith in the face and knocked him off the barstool. Neither person admitted to knowing Smith was in possession of a gun at the time of the incident

According to testimony during the trial, Smith was knocked unconscious after one punch from Harper, after which time Harper continued to assault Smith.

Smith was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center-Ironton Campus to be treated for his injuries, which included cuts on his head and face and a swollen jaw.

Gene Meadows, attorney for Harper, said his client saw the gun and reacted in self-defense based on alleged threats Smith had made to him.

“Bobby had every reason in the world to act the way he did, and if he didn’t we might be here on a different kind of case,” Meadows told the jury.

In addition to Smith, Greco, and Kelly, three Ironton police officers testified as well as a paramedic and an employee of the bar.

Harper is expected to testify today, according to Meadows.