State, defense rest case in Union Twp. assault

Two men accused of firing shots at a repo man last May

By Melanie Yingst -

MIAMI COUNTY — On Wednesday, the state and defense gave their closing arguments in regards to two Union Township men accused of firing shots in the direction of a Franklin man who stopped at the home to repossess a vehicle in May 2017.

Eric Brown, 55, and Matthew Naff, 35, both of Troy, were indicted by a grand jury for second-degree felony assault with a three-year gun specification and third-degree felony discharge of a firearm on or near prohibited premises. It was the second day of a bench trial with Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher Gee presiding. After hearing closing arguments, Gee said he would likely have a verdict by next week.

The repossession worker, John Couch, testified to the court how he stopped at the residence in the 8000 block of State Route 571, Union Twp., to speak to Naff’s wife Lisa, the owner of a vehicle he was sent to recover on May 22, 2017. Couch claimed he was leaving a note on the door for Lisa Naff to contact him when he was allegedly accosted by Naff and Brown. Brown lived in a camper on the Naff property. Lisa Naff testified to the court she believed Couch was attempting to break into the home. Sheriff’s deputies testified she did not fill out a victim statement at the time of the incident. Couch claimed Brown and Naff fired shots as he retreated to his vehicle.

In his closing argument, Miami County Assistant Prosecutor Paul Watkins stated, “The victim just wanted to leave, he was trying to leave and those defendants wouldn’t let him. He was doing his job in a polite and professional manner. Matt Naff decided to go grab a gun, threaten the victim and shoot in the direction of the victim.”

Later in Watkins’ rebuttal, he showed a photo of a “No Trespassing” sign on a tree at the Naff’s residence. The words “No warning shots” were written on the sign.

Naff’s attorney Jose Lopez argued his client fired shots in the ground, but never pointed the 9 mm gun in Couch’s direction, thus Naff did not commit the elements of the charges brought against him.

“As it relates to my client, there is no testimony that Mr. Couch (victim) suffered any physical harm, so that’s the first part of the statute,” Lopez said.

Later Lopez said Couch “pardon the pun, under the gun” sensationalized his statements and testimony. Lopez said Couch, who was armed against company policy, should not have been carrying a gun or attempted to get in the Naff’s home. Couch testified he was leaving a note for Naff’s wife Lisa to call him in regards to the vehicle he was to recover.

Lopez said the bullets recovered in the casings were shot into the ground, and Naff was “not shooting at someone, shooting in the ground.”

Public defender Steve Layman, representing Brown, said the state failed to prove his client’s .22 Ruger was used that day.

“We are still left with the very real possibility that the .22 that was seized, examined and presented as evidence was not even fired on that day,”said Layman, noting the search warrant and no casings from his client’s gun were found at the scene. Layman argued eyewitness accounts were unreliable and lack of physical evidence to prove Brown is not guilty of the charges.

On May 22, 2017, deputies responded to the 8000 block of State Route 571, Union Twp., for a report of two males shooting at each other. It was later found Naff and Brown were shooting in the direction of a male who was at the residence to speak to Lisa Naff to repossess a vehicle. Both Matthew Naff and Eric Brown were charged with felonious assault.

Two men accused of firing shots at a repo man last May

By Melanie Yingst