AKRON, Ohio - The high-priced defense team for Denny Ross spent the day questioning the integrity of Brad O’Born, the former boyfriend of Hannah Hill. Some heated exchanges made for an interesting day of testimony.
O’Born testified for more than six hours Wednesday, detailing his verbally and physically abusive on-again, off-again relationship with Hannah Hill. He admitted to massive drug use and alcohol abuse while noting his lengthy criminal record.
“I was not a good boyfriend. I was abusive. I abused (Hannah),” O'Born admitted while being questioned by prosecutors. But he said the abuse was never enough that anyone broke up the fights or called police.
O’Born said he panicked and threw up when he learned Hannah’s body was found stuffed in the trunk of her car. Then, when he heard Denny Ross had been arrested, he gathered a few friends, “got some guns,” and took a ride to Ross’s Canton Road apartment.
But when they arrived to “get revenge,” Akron police cruisers filled the driveway. So they turned around, now realizing Ross was behind bars, went back to one of their homes and smoked some marijuana.
“I was surprised,” said O’Born. “I called a lot of people…I called Jen Edwards to find out if she knew anything. I called Tara because we were all close. I didn’t understand why (Hannah) went over there.”
O’Born also said he walked to friends’ houses and spent countless hours searching for Hill before her body was found.
Prosecutors later asked O'Born, "Knowing Hannah Hill, would she have fought the man who strangled her?"
“Hannah would’ve fought. She would’ve fought for her life," he said.
During cross examination, Ross’s attorney asked O’Born, “Do you know what the high temperature was in May 1999? 70. Do you sweat when temperatures are in the 60s?”
“I sweat when I walk 5 miles in a panic,” responded O’Born, after a heated exchange.
Jurors saw photos of the scratch marks all over O’Born’s body from a fight, he said, happened with Hannah days before her disappearance. That prompted lawyers for Ross to ask O’Born if he got into any other fights after that “big fight with Hannah” that would explain his swollen left hand. O’Born didn’t believe his hand looked swollen.
O’Born testified police took a letter from his house after Hill’s body was found on May 26, 1999. The letter said he didn't want to lose Hannah and that he loved her.
"I was trying to save our relationship,” explained O’Born. He also apologized for his behavior in the note.
Jurors also saw several pieces of evidence, including Hill’s journal entries detailing her and O’Born’s fights, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual encounters and more.
(See PHOTOS of the scratch marks on O'Born's body that jurors saw during part of his testimony and other evidence: http://ow.ly/d9Ag7)
It’s clear the defense is trying to paint O’Born as the killer and not Ross.
Shortly after 4 p.m., Judge Judy Hunter adjourned court for the day. Testimony resumes Thursday at 9 a.m.
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Denny Ross Coverage
Family and friends of Hannah Hill gathered at the gazebo next to Springfield Lake Sunday afternoon to remember Hannah Hill.
After being convicted of the 1999 murder of Hannah Hill in Akron, Denny Ross is headed to prison for at least 19 more years.