PAWNEE — A teenager from Pawnee County has been ordered to stand trial on a charge of repeatedly beating his 55-year-old neighbor with pieces of wood in an attempt to kill him.
Joshua Eric Fairless, 18, of Cleveland, could receive a life prison term if convicted of assault and battery with intent to kill. He is due to be arraigned Friday by District Judge Jefferson Sellers.
Fairless has been jailed for the past two months on $300,000 bail since his arrest by Pawnee County Sheriff’s Deputy Clinton Stout.
The alleged victim, David Mills, who now lives in Cleveland Manor Nursing Home, had noticeable difficulty walking into the courtroom to testify at a Nov. 29 preliminary hearing before Associate District Judge Matthew Henry.
“I can’t walk without help. I can’t lift my arms over my head,” Mills said.
He said that the beating left him with a gash in his head, a broken nose, a fractured face and fractured ribs.
Mills testified that he was sleeping in his front yard in the Lakeland addition west of Cleveland, when Fairless, his next-door neighbor for the past several years, woke him on Oct. 2.
“I’ve got a couch in my front yard. He wanted to take my car to find his mom.
“I told him no. He took my car and got the car stuck at my house.
“He got violent. He started saying he wanted to find out where his mom was.
“He said ‘I’ll have to kill you.’ He started beating on me.
“He hit me in the stomach, kicked me in the stomach, in the ribs, in the head, in the back, whereever,” Mills testified.
“I tried to go in the house. He said ‘You have enough?’
“He started beating on me again. He was using his feet, his fists, a club.
“I’ve got a firewood pile in my front yard. He got one of them,” Mills testified.
Mills estimated that he was hit 20 or 30 times during the second beating.
“I was unconscious most of the time. I think I had him take me inside the house,” Mills said.
Mills said that four or five months before this, he had a problem with Fairless. “He said he’d kill me,” Mills testified.
On cross-examination, Mills said that he was not intoxicated, but had been drinking between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. the night before the 3 a.m. beating.
Mills also denied providing alcohol to the teenager.
“I just tolerated him. He came around ’cause his mom lived next door,” Mills said.
Deputy Stout said he arrived at the scene shortly after an ambulance crew.
“Mr. Mills had both eyes beaten shut. He was covered in blood. There was blood on the couch,” the deputy testified.
Fairless “was standing in the living room — he was covered in blood from head to toe.
“Fairless was extremely intoxicated. He told me he had assaulted Mr. Mills.
“Mr. Mills had made a comment about his girlfriend. It angered him and he assaulted him,” the deputy testified Mills told him.
The deputy said that he saw two large logs covered in blood, which he suspected were used as weapons.
“There was a large area of blood out in the front yard of Mr. Mills’ residence,” where bloody handprints were on trees and blood was on a whiskey bottle that was partially full, the deputy testified.
Fairless was arrested at 4:30 a.m. that day and made a statement the next day at about 1:15 p.m., the deputy said.
“He did state he kicked and punched Mr. Mills several times, but he did not hit Mr. Mills with any objects,” the deputy testified Fairless told him.
At the Cleveland Area Hospital, Mills stopped breathing twice, an affidavit said. His heart stopped and he had to be resuscitated, an affidavit by Stout said.
Mills was in critical condition and unconscious when he was airlifted to St. John Hospital in Tulsa, the affidavit said.