XENIA — Police officers testified in trial April 23 that a Xenia woman admitted to the fatal stabbing that occurred during a fight on East Church Street last year.
The jury trial for Tova Wallace-Lee, 21, accused of murder and felonious assault, began Monday in Greene County Common Pleas Court. The prosecution says Wallace-Lee stabbed Tre’Ana Tarver, 19, of Xenia during a planned fight on Nov. 3, 2018. Tarver later died from the injuries.
Then-Xenia Police Division Officer Andrew Bishop was dispatched to the scene of the crime that night, he explained in court. Shortly after he arrived, he said, Wallace-Lee approached him.
“She walked right up to me and said ‘You can go ahead and take me to jail now’,” Bishop told the jury. “She stated, ‘I’m Tova Wallace. They tried to come and fight me. I had my knife and stabbed her’.”
Bishop said he and Wallace-Lee walked inside, where she explained to him that an argument on Facebook about a man led to the planned fight at her house.
“She said she walked to the back door, grabbed a knife off the kitchen table because she was scared, and walked outside,” Bishop said. “She told me the girl on the ground swung at her with a closed fist and she stabbed her.”
During cross-examination, Bishop described Wallace-Lee’s demeanor as “kind of everywhere,” “uneasy on her feet” and “hysterical and crying.” He also said Wallace-Lee told him that she couldn’t remember what happened because it happened so fast.
Xenia Detective Matt Miller testified that he interviewed Wallace-Lee at the police station that night.
Miller said Wallace-Lee gave inconsistent accounts of the fight during the interview. Initially, he said, Wallace-Lee told him she blacked out and couldn’t remember what happened. In the next account, he said, Wallace-Lee told him that Tarver swung at her face, hitting her, so Wallace-Lee swung back at her and they fell to the ground.
“Then they all try to jump me, like I was not winning, so I don’t know. I stabbed her,” Wallace-Lee said on the video-taped interview. “They all just jumped me, they came out of nowhere.”
In the final account, Miller said, Wallace-Lee told him that she and Tarver were standing up when she stabbed her, before they fell to the ground and Tarver’s friends jumped in.
Defense Attorney Kirsten Knight, in her cross-examination of Miller, pointed out that the time span between the different accounts was just two minutes, and that Wallace-Lee was simply correcting the officer. She also calculated that the interview happened within two hours of the traumatic incident. Miller agreed that Wallace-Lee was cooperative and even let him retrieve Facebook messages from her cellphone.
More witnesses for the state took the stand to describe their accounts of what happened that night.
Adara Tarrent, 20, testified that she was at the fight to support her friend Tarver, although she never intended to get involved physically.
She testified that it was very dark and she didn’t see Tarver throw a punch, but did see Wallace-Lee grab Tarver and pull her into the yard. Tarrent said it was 15-20 seconds after the initial contact that she heard Tarver yell that she was being stabbed.
“That’s when I run into the yard,” Tarrent said, describing how she and Mahogany Bruce found Tarver’s wound, applied pressure to it with a hoodie, and tried to keep Tarver awake.
Knight pointed out a Facebook message Tarrent sent to Wallace-Lee earlier that day, suggesting that it sounded threatening. Then Knight recalled the final message from Wallace-Lee to Tarrent.
“At 9:47 p.m. … she says she’s going to bed. She says goodnight,” Knight said. “So at 11:30 the three of you went to her house?”
Also during Day 2: Detective David Wilson testified to preserving Facebook records, Sgt. Matthew Foubert identified a knife as evidence, and Montgomery County Deputy Coroner Dr. Robert Shott confirmed the cause of Tarver’s death as a stab wound to the chest.
The state will continue with testimony 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 24 in Judge Michael Buckwalter’s courtroom before the defense presents their case.