On Wednesday, April 8, Ronald E. Stahlman, aka Jim O’Neil of Payson, pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter for the April 29, 1979 death of Bernard Williamson. Mr. Stahlman’s plea came on the third day of a jury trial in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court in Warren, Ohio. Mr. Stahlman had fled Ohio immediately after the crime and had been on the run for almost 30 years.
Thanks to the hard work and determination of the U.S. Marshals Service and with the assistance of the Payson Police Department and Sgt. Don Kasl, Mr. Stahlman was located on Dec. 8, 2008 in Payson, Arizona living under the name Jim O’Neil. U.S. Marshals interviewed the defendant, his wife and two daughters while in Payson.
When the case was set for trial in March of 2009 our office was required to serve out-of-state subpoenas on the wife and daughters to bring them to Ohio for the purpose of testifying against Mr. Stahlman. The office of Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores, Patti Wortman, Chief Deputy County Attorney and the Honorable Judge Peter J. Cahill, were instrumental in helping our office serve these out-of-state subpoenas and ensure the appearance of these three witnesses in the state of Ohio.
Having been a prosecutor for almost 20 years, it is rare to see the professionalism and assistance exhibited by your city and county officials. To expediently and correctly have these subpoenas served in a short time period for a jurisdiction located 2,000 miles away is a credit to the dedication, professionalism and leadership of your county government.
On behalf of the citizens of Trumbull County, Ohio and the victims of this case, please accept this letter as the thanks that is so well deserved by the Payson Police, the Gila County Attorneys Office and Judge Peter J. Cahill. Thanks to their efforts, justice was not denied even after 30 years.
Christopher D. Becker
Chief Trial Counsel
Trumbull County, Ohio