• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments


This is a compelling story, if you have a few minutes to read the whole thing. It pits a possibly mentally ill man and his reclusive mother against teenagers out for a relatively tame (especially in this day and age) night of fun, and things go horribly wrong:

It has come to be known as the Spooky House Incident: A group of teenagers in this quaint older suburb who tried to scare themselves on a "ghost hunt" and a recluse who responded with gunfire, leaving two lives wrecked.

A pretty blonde high school cheerleader, Rachel Barezinsky, is crippled for life. Allen S. Davis, roused from an eccentric but otherwise unoffending existence, was sentenced last month to 19 years in prison for what he describes as defending his home.

A year after the shots were fired, the bizarre case has left residents around Columbus torn. While plenty of people felt Davis got what he deserved for overreacting to teenager antics, many others saw the girls as picking on Davis and facing no legal consequences for trespassing.

"I felt kind of sorry for both sides," resident Jane Leppert said as she sat outside a coffee shop near the village's brick-paved square. "Although I feel very sorry for the girl who was shot, she unfortunately messed around with a kind of paranoid individual who felt the need to protect himself, even against kids."

I read through the story several times until I finally came down slightly on the side of the homeowner. He was guilty under the law, but the sentence seems overly harsh. The case hinged on the fact that the girls were not technically trespassing because they weren't far enough onto the property and there were no clearly visible signs. But they were seeking thrills at the place because it had a reputation of being "spooky." There's usually a reason for that.

But we value life over property, so perhaps I'm wrong. What do you think?


brian stouder
Wed, 08/22/2007 - 8:22am

Gotta strenuously disagree; the guy could've called the cops, or popped on some lights.

As a citizen with neighbors, I don't accept the idea that another citizen should have the right - even slightly - to shoot first and ask questions later (a person's family might be asleep a block from the shooting, and get hit by this guy's errant shots).

If the girls had burst INto the guy's home*, then I could maybe understand his massive over-reaction, but blasting away at people on the sidewalk or the street?

* although if I lived with my mom, and a bunch of adventursome girls showed up, I would think it was a dream-come-true, and not a license to kill

Bob G.
Wed, 08/22/2007 - 8:45am

As a homeowner in the "badlands" (southeast side) here, I've had WAY too many trespassing incidents to count. And I handle each one differently...it depends on the situation.

Even had a 8 person fight on the side lawn, and I reacted by going out, spotlight in one hand (lighting them up), pistol in the other, saying YOU PEOPLE HAVE THREE SECIONDS TO VACATE...or ELSE.
They left...rather hurredly.
Never came back.

Many times the police ARE required, but since ANY trespassing infraction is such a LOW priority on their dispatch calls, they might not arrive until 20-30 minutes later. By then, damage can already be done...or YOU can be DEAD.
Then what do you do?

The cops can only shrug THEIR shoulders and leave in most cases anyway, and maybe chase the perps away...big deal.

I've had the house egged, hit with paintballs, BBs and had a brick tossed through a window (must be a "cultural" thing with these people) over the years, and my wife and I have bothered NO one (until WE are bothered).

A man's home is still his "castle", and in today's world of blatant disrespect and lack of moral values, one has to do what one has to do.

But if you "have" to shoot, I'd recommend frangible rounds...they turn to powder on impacting a solid target, negating ricochets, but will inflict damage to organic targets.

You pay for your property many times over, and have a right to maintain it (by city code even), but WHO pays when it becomes a playground, a fight arena, or incurs other damages from hooligans?

Think about it.


Wed, 08/22/2007 - 12:05pm

I know that kids will be kids, but it seems as if no one has any respect for another's privacy any more. It seems that there is/was a fence up in front of the house, they knew that someone lived there, so they had absolutely no business trespassing & invading the home owner's privacy. However, the home owner was a little extreme in his defense. Why not just call the authorities, unless they were inside of your house? If I could afford it, there would be a 12 foot high fence around my entire property because I am a very private person who doesn't like visitors or being disturbed, myself.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 12:11pm

I wonder if the shooter had been the one on someone else's property and got shot for "trespassing", what the public response would have been.

Another point was that the legal system pointed out that there is a legal limit onto your property before it becomes tresspassing. Makes you kind of wonder that the fella who takes pics of kids can come onto your property at a "legal" distance from your "actual home" and shoot pics of your kids.

Justice for being different, don't ya think?

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 12:13pm

I live in the country, the nearest house is at least 5 - 7 miles down the road. My husband drives over-the-road and isn't home every night. One night, while alone with my then 10-year old son, I had to pull the shotgun on a man who was sitting in my driveway casing the house at 1:00 a.m. I DID call the cops, but it took them 45 min. to get there, although they were only 10 minutes away. I busted out the door, pointed the gun, and told him he had exactly 3 seconds to get off of my property before I started peppering him. He kicked up the gravel in the driveway as he peeled out. I was never again bothered after that. Who knows what would've happened if I had waited for the cops?

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 12:24pm

I think that the punishment was too harsh for this man. Although he may look weird and demented he had the right to defend his home. Those girls got what they deserved. They should have been punished as well for trespassing and harrasing a family.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 12:48pm

I believe that this guy was within his rights to open fire on anyone that 'is' trespassing on his property. In his mind, these people were 'out to get him'...however, once they had left his property, he had no reason to continue in an aggresive behavior, and the authorities should have been notified.
Everyone wants to feel bad for these kids...sorry...they broke the law, and they paid a price for it... And yeah, yeah...we did things like this as kids, but it was a very different 'time'.

Sorry 'bout your luck,

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 1:13pm

while I think he took it WAY too far, my sympathies generally are with the the homeowner here. From the backstory, it sounds like this is not the first time someone decided to have a bit of 'fun' at the outcast's expense, and not the first time he shot at whoever was doing it. So I would be very surprised if the teens were not aware that they might get this type of response... they just didn't think they would actually get _hurt_ by it. It also sounds like the police were basically turning a blind eye to harassment of a black sheep, which is not uncommon in small towns.

Though as for 'we value life over property',.. since when? Take a read on 'stand your ground' laws, which basically let you kill even if there is NO risk to your life.

Wayne S
Wed, 08/22/2007 - 1:13pm

Never realized Ohio was a Country. The judge said that in this "Country" we are not allowed to shoot at people just on your property? I have to disagree in some states that is not necesarily the case. Each state has a different self defense law and some of them I am pretty sure allow defense of property as well as life. Although the girls were not trying to steal anything the picture of the house does not lead one to believe it was very well lit. How was he to know what they were doing or how old they were or their gender. just that there were several prowlers on his property.

and in response to he could have called the cops. Do we know he can afford a phone? do we know he had one? we know he USE to have one but that after repeated calls to the police about aliens the cops had stopped responding. Trust me once they stop responding to aliens that address is gonna get black listed for everything you see it on the news all the time. So the cops were out of the picture probably from the beginning whether he had a phone or not. If the guy had waited for them to burst into his home he might not get the chance to do anything. Not sure if he gave them a warning first or not he should have at least done that incase they were just looking for help themselves.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 1:15pm

I find this situation so Faulker-esque. The recluses from the world clash with modern society in the worst possible way.

Also, did anyone else think it was irresponsible of CNN to include Rose Schneider's snarky claim that Rachel was sleeping with Davis? Just because it was an "online comment" doesn't make it legitimate! More often that not, online comments are no better than the neighborhood gossip you hear in the grocery store.

The reprinting of this comment by a news agency like CNN is an unfair swipe at Rachel, implying that she somehow brought this fate on herself by being a slutty, wild teenager. And there's no proof that she was anything BUT a teenager! When are people going to outgrown this old-fashioned, misogynist idea that if a girl is harmed, she somehow brought it on herself by sexual impropriety?

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 1:43pm

It doesn't matter if the property owner didn't have no trespassing signs up. For goodness sake. Private property is exactly what it means - Private. How dumb has this country become?

It doesn't matter if the girls were 1/16" on the property or at the front door - they were trespassing and had no business being there.

They made a bad choice - so did the property owner. However he shouldn't be given a harsh penalty. He didn't go knock on someone's door & pull the trigger. Or invade a shopping mall with a loaded weapon.

He was at his own home where he's expected to be. The girls, on the other hand, were not. They were out doing childish pranks. One that worked against them.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 2:00pm

They should shoot the mental ill man! Nobody would miss him. Now we have a young life wasted because of this freak. She did not damage property. I hope this guy gets raped everyday in prison.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 2:17pm

Oh, I almost forgot......Who cut this guys hair? Mo, from the three stooges?

The fact that some of you feel this was the slightest bit justified make me worry about the world that we bring our children up in.

This was child who was shot. The reaction to coming on his property was way to extreme. Nobody was entering his home, he didn't call the police.

This man deserved more than 19yrs and the little girle deserves a metal! I would say a presidental award only if this guy is killed in prison.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 2:22pm

Hey aleighcat,

That was a scarry story! I've read your comments and dermined that you are as messed up as the guy in this story. I feel sorry for your son.......This story will probably be his life.

Maybe you should loosen up some, smoke a joint, get laid.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 2:23pm

I can see that many of you had some bad childhoods. Kids will be kids, they weren't hurting anyone. I really think most of you were bullied....you know I am right.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 2:33pm

I agree with Brad! I would have put it differently, but I agree. Especially about the harsh views many of you exibit towards the children. Your childhoods must have been hell.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 2:36pm

I live in Powell which is a few miles from Worthington where this incident took place. The story is right on- it has divided this area. God knows what happened to this young girl was horrific, and never should have happened; but to sentence the homeowner to 19 years is ridiculous! He should have to serve time for having poor judgement, but the shooting of the girl was not intentional- even the police conceded that. Do we as homeowners have no rights anymore? Do parents not teach their kids common courtesy anymore? Do we not know what our kids are doing and where? It is a sad situation all the way around, but the punishment for the homeowner was excessive.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 2:54pm


As a home owner it is your responsability to treat each situation rationally. Call the police! Spot Light The person on your property. God forbid a child toy land in your yard....are you going to open fire for that? What about a door to door salesman? The paperboy in the early morning. Use your head stupid. He was wrong, he should have been killed and I hope he gets it in prison.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 3:18pm

I feel that the teenagers should not have trespassed on the man's property. I believe that shooting at them was wrong but it's a kind of "thay's what you get" incident. If they were not on his property the girl wouldn't have gotten shot. They should have had their fun elsewhere especially if they knew they were dealing with a potentially mentally-ill person.

South Side Columbus
Wed, 08/22/2007 - 4:16pm

I live on the South Side of Columbus. Had this same situation taken place on this side of town, it would have been handled in a much different way. For those of you in the country reading this don't know about Worthington, the people in this community may think they are entitled to more due to their economic status. They may feel they are better than others. There was a 28 year old murdered in a house down the street from mine a few months ago and you don't hear a thing about it. It is time for people in this country to be responsible for their own actions. These teenagers did not have to choose to go there and harrass this family on this night. They chose to do it. Where is the parents of the teenagers responsibility ? I think the guy who fired the shots should be on house arrest, not Prison for 18 years. The parents of these teenagers should be held accountable. If I were the family of Mr. Davis, I would be filing charges against the parents of the teenagers. Both parties were negligent , but Mr. Davis is the only party paying . His prison sentence is too harsh. I am going to begin, in the next few weeks a campaign to have his prison sentence reduced to fit the actual crime. Had Mr. Davis had the financial resources, he would not be in prison right now. Turn this around. Put the teenager as the shooter and Mr. Davis as the shooting victim. Mr. Davis would still be in prison right now for trespassing. I just feel that Mr. Davis got a very bad deal... VERY BAD. My father always told me growing up I would be responsible for my own actions. I think we should all be. While I feel for the young lady who was injured, I also feel for the Davis family. Justice was not served in this case. I am going to do what I can to see that Mr. Davis be released from prison. BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 4:42pm

We had a very similar incident in Canada a few years ago. There was a weird guy that lived outside of a small town called Hythe. Alberta. He had a sort of a commune out there and was always causing trouble with the Oil companies in the area (Bombings, vandalism, etc.). The teenager in the area would often go out and do donuts in the yard of his farm. He never called the cops on any of them.

One night he had enough and shot at two trucks as they left his property. A young girl was killed.

There were no charges ever laid against the man named Weibo Ludwig.

There have been charges in relation to recent damages that he has caused to the large Oil Companies. He is an outcast in the small community.

I think that he got away with murder.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 5:09pm

It's real simple folks. It's a tragedy for both sides. Kids will be kids, but common sense dictates to NOT go onto the property of a house that you know you shouldn't go onto....

You can't place all the blame on the man or the girls or the judge or the parents...

You blame them all. Taking responsibility for your actions is somehow a non-issue in this country, and it's why we have incidents like this, as well as imports that don't meet standards... why? Because we are so cheap we dont' care if it's harmful....

It's real simple... firing a warning shot at the ground is just as effective... hey even a firecracker or yelling...

and these girls shouldn't have been there

and the judge has no idea what he is talking about... here in texas it is perfectly legal to do what this man did... taht's why you don't hear stories about this down here....

and where are the parents? I know it's few and far between, but that gap of bad parenting and lack of common sense is narrowing fast.

DISCIPLINE YOUR KIDS..... TELL THEM THEY CAN"T HAVE IT... real simple... their kids see more of paris hilton than mom and dad... gee i wonder who is raising them?

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 6:14pm

The girls were trepassing, yes. They should be held accountable for that and pay whatever debt the law dictates. They are kids and they did a dumb thing.

But what about the accountability for Davis? He shot a child and she's permanently disabled! Does that punishment fit her crime? He could've killed her. And since when do shots fired in the air as a warning hit a moving vehicle and the people inside? He had to have fired in her direction. He had other options...get a dog, motion detector lights, a spot light, call the cops.

He claimed he was protecting his family against intrusion and murder. When did those threats happen? She wasn't in his home trying to kill him. She walked on his yard by the light of her cell phone.

He's obviously paranoid and mentally ill and so is his mother. That's sad.

It's sadder that as a kid, you can't make bad judgement without an adult trying to kill you.

He'll get out in 19 years. She'll still be living with a disability.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 6:39pm

For all of you who feel that "the girls got what they deserved" or tend to "side with the home owner":

I wonder how you would feel if your own child had part of their skull blown off because they were a few feet on someone's piece of property.
Would you feel that your child "should have known better" when they are laying in the hospital fighting for their lives and having pieces of their heads sewn back together?
I pray that none of your children are killed or cripped in repayment for tresspassing.
Having a bullet tear through your brain is not what anyone deserves for tresspassing!
Wake up people!
Is the dignity and value of human life so low that shooting an unarmed teenage girl in the head justified by protecting your front lawn. Where is the value of human life?!?!?!
This man was NOT in immediate physical danger. It doesn't sound like any of you are lawyers, because if you were, you would understand that THE LAW says that you cannot use lethal force at any time, UNLESS you are in immediate physical danger of death or severe injury.
Normal people don't shoot at cars full of unarmed cheerleaders when they are not in danger. I don't think that 19 years is a long enough sentence. This man should not be allowed to interact with normal people (who don't shoot to protect the grass on their front lawn).
You shoot an unarmed cheerleader in the head without a good reason (like acutal REASONABLE danger or death or serious injury), you go to jail for a very long time.
end of story.

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 7:51pm

Consider this:

The Davis' did have a phone, they chose not to use it to call the police -- not even once -- to get help. The police weren't aware of the problem. The girls were driving away (on a public street) when he first shot. They didn't realize it was gunfire and circled the block to see if they'd hear the "firecrackers" again.

NO ONE saw them take the couple on the property -- including Davis. They cannot be prosecuted only on their own admissions -- there must be independent evidence of a crime. I do not believe any state allows the death penalty for trespassing.

Davis was a recluse -- by choice!! That does not give him the right to shoot at vehicles driving by his house on the public roadway. He must still abide by the laws of society. Incidentally, the Davis house is so poorly maintained that it is appears no one would live there. They never turn on lights and there is absolutely no outside lighting. It is exactly what a "haunted house" should look like.

This was not small town justice. Worthington is a suburb of Columbus, Ohio and you cannot tell when you leave Columbus and enter Worthington. The case was prosecuted in Common Pleas Court -- which has jurisdiction over all of Franklin County - not just Worthington.

While I have some compassion for Davis (who probably has been picked on for being strange), it is heavily outweighed by the very serious physical harm suffered by Rachel that has permanently taken away her independence, hopes and dreams.

Allen Davis still doesn't think he did anything wrong. Thank God he's in prison for 19 years and teenagers everywhere are safe from his vigilante attitude and acts!!

Smarter than you
Wed, 08/22/2007 - 9:03pm

This is completely rediculious. The girls went there knowing that a "creepy" family lived there, and that they wanted to scare themselves, and a creepy family. When I was a kid I did the same thing, and if I would have gotten shot in the face, I would have deserved it as well. The one determining factor in this incident is: THE GIRLS WENT TO THE HOUSE. They don't go to the house, we don't talk about this. Period.

Now from a legal perspecive, It's a different story. I don't consider the legal perspective because anybody with half a brain knows that our legal system is only here to collect money from citizens through citations and fines, and not really to protect us or anything like that.

19 years huh? Karma, got the girls ahead of time as far as I see it. They are crippled and this guys in jail. All cause they wanted to poke a pitbull with stick, and got bit...

Dave White
Thu, 08/23/2007 - 9:43pm

Wow, Leo, such a reaction to this story, the search engines must be working well. This is a story that has been played out in the Central Ohio area for several months, topic of talk radio and other media. I can't believe that people think it was ok to shoot into a car, that these girls got what they deserved. I can't believe that when these people were in high school, they never did anything similar, in some fashion, for which they never got shot, getting shot never even entered their minds. Nah, they were probably all perfect angels.

A couple of years after I graduated from high school, the middle school principal at my school shot at some kids who were stealing pumpkins from his pumpkin patch one night, hitting one teenage boy in the leg, I think. He did at least a year in jail because of it, as I recall. This would have been about 1970 in Central Ohio.

Fri, 08/24/2007 - 1:57pm

More info needed.

Seriously. What was the lighting like in the yard (could he see what he was shooting at)? What has Mr. Davis gone through in the past that would make him feel like he needed to pull out a gun in the first place? Did he even know that the girls were running away when he started shooting (or if the intruders were even female)?

I am having a hard time deciding where to direct my opinions with the amount of info in the story.

brian stouder
Fri, 08/24/2007 - 9:33pm

"What was the lighting like in the yard (could he see what he was shooting at)?"

This question answers itself, doesn't it? If it was too dark see what a person was about to use deadly force against, then simple common sense indicates that maybe he should NOT have opened fire! The burden is entirely upon the shooter to either turn on a light or to be damned sure that the target(s) really do pose a serious threat.

Folks who say "but the girls were trespassing" seem to have a Dr Strangelove-like lust for massive retaliation....as was said elsewhere, not just "an eye for an eye" but "an eye for any offense whatsoever!"

larry morris
Sat, 08/25/2007 - 9:53am

I've read all the comments and some of them seem to bend over backwards to say "even though the kids were on his property without permission, he didn't have to go that far". Well, we seem to forget all this is in hindsight - I live in one of those states where you can protect your property as well as your life with deadly force. It was dark. It was his property. It was an intrusion onto his property. In a case like that where I live, it would be a 2 line story on the back page of the paper. My property is fenced and gated, if I saw someone wandering around inside my fence during the day, I would probably approach and see just what the hell they were doing - armed, of course. But if the same thing happened at night when it would be difficult to tell if they were armed, I'm not so sure I would ask questions first, ...