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Victim Says Paycheck Shot Him After Buying A Round

May 14, 1986 GMT

HILLSBORO, Ohio (AP) _ A man testified Tesday that Johnny Paycheck shot him in the head minutes after the country singer bought him a beer.

Larry Wise, the state’s first witness at Paycheck’s trial in the Dec. 19 barroom shooting, said he had done nothing to provoke Paycheck.

But Paycheck’s lawyer, Ralph Buss, told the Highland County Common Pleas Court jury that Wise and his friend, Lloyd Bowers, had bullied and intimidated Paycheck, who was in the bar alone.

Bowers forced Paycheck to trade hats and Wise approached Paycheck threateningly with an upraised beer bottle before Paycheck shot Wise in self- defense, Buss said in his opening statement.

Wise, 37, said he and a friend had each drunk six or seven beers that night - including one that Paycheck bought as part of a round for the entire bar - and had been preparing to leave when Paycheck reached back quickly around his hip, then shot Wise.

″Did you see the gun?″ Highland County Prosecutor Rocky Coss asked Wise.

″No, I didn’t see the gun,″ Wise replied. ″My hat flew off ... My ears was ringing real bad. I reached down to get my hat, and blood was running down my face. I knowed I had been shot.″

Wise said he held nothing in his hands when Paycheck shot him. Wise testified he ran from the tavern, followed briefly by Paycheck.

″He was behind me, yelling, ’I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do it,‴ Wise said. ″I never looked back.″

Paycheck, who is to testify in his defense later this week, sat quietly at the defense table, shedding his jacket and occasionally shifting in his chair.

Wise showed the jury the bullet’s entry and exit scars on his balding scalp, above his right eye.

Ernest Turner, owner of the North High Lounge, testified later that Paycheck had argued with Wise and Bowers before the shooting, but that the situation didn’t seem volatile.

″It was like discussing a ballgame. It wasn’t a heated argument,″ Turner said. ″They weren’t raising their voices or pushing or shoving or anything.″

Paycheck, who like Wise is from nearby Greenfield, is being tried on a county indictment charging him with felonious assault, carrying a concealed weapon and tampering with evidence, for allegedly disposing of the handgun used in the shooting.

Paycheck, 47, has pleaded innocent. He could be sentenced to 3 to 22 years in state prison and fined $7,500 if convicted of all the charges.

Buss said Paycheck had been visiting his sick mother and had gone to the North High Lounge afterward to be alone and relax with a drink. Paycheck tried to avoid a fight with Wise and Bowers, and backed away from the approaching Wise before bumping into the jukebox and shooting Wise, Buss said.

Paycheck, after trying to apologize to Wise, drove back to the home of friends he was staying with in Sabina, about 20 miles away, Buss said. Paycheck threw his gun out the car window somewhere between Hillsboro and Sabina, Buss said.