ELYRIA — Jeremy Diestler displayed no emotion Friday as Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi read aloud a jury verdict that found him guilty of aggravated murder and other charges for gunning down Matthew Stinson in 2014.
Diestler, 32, could get up to life in prison without parole when he is sentenced later this month.
Jurors deliberated for roughly 3 1/2 hours before handing down the guilty verdicts on every count against Diestler, which included murder, felonious assault, tampering with evidence and improperly discharging a firearm at a habitation.
Diestler didn’t deny killing Stinson, but his defense attorneys, Jack Bradley and Michael Stepanik, had argued that it wasn’t a premeditated murder, but rather the result of a sudden fit of rage. During closing arguments earlier in the day Bradley asked jurors to find his client guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than the more serious murder charges.
“If you’re going to plan out somebody’s murder, this is the worst plan I’ve ever seen in my whole life,” Bradley said.
But Assistant County Prosecutor Donna Freeman argued Diestler knew exactly what he was doing when he went over to Stinson’s Wesley Avenue apartment complex Sept. 17, 2014, armed with guns he’d stolen from his father a few days earlier.
“His plan and his purpose was to kill Matthew Stinson,” Freeman said during her closing. “Not only did he kill Matthew Stinson, ladies and gentlemen, he executed Matthew Stinson.”
Freeman said Diestler had been stewing in his anger over bad heroin batches that Stinson had been selling him and when he parked in the lot of the apartment complex, he got out of his truck and waited for Stinson to come outside.
Stinson, she said, had been lured downstairs by a call from Diestler to meet him for a drug deal.
“He walked down the stairs and he’s looking into the barrel of a rifle,” she said.
Diestler shot Stinson, 25, five times with a stolen AR-10 rifle, Freeman said. The wounded Stinson staggered back into his apartment building and collapsed at the bottom of a stairwell, where Diestler then shot him five times in the head with a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol.
Diestler then fired up the stairwell at Stinson’s neighbor, Angela Wade, who was grazed in the shoulder by one of the bullets, before he fled and hid the weapons at his mother’s Grafton home, Freeman said. Diestler was arrested the next day by Elyria police.
When he took the stand earlier in the trial, Diestler said he had gone to the complex to buy heroin, which he was using to treat his bad back. He said Stinson tried to sell him a bad batch of heroin and refused to return the $1,000 he had paid for what he believed to be high-quality heroin.
He also said Stinson raised his hoodie and showed him a black handle, which Diestler took to be a gun.
Diestler said he was angry and “bugged out” when he returned to the truck, firing randomly at Stinson with the rifle. He said he then tossed the rifle back in his truck and pursued Stinson with the handgun, firing five more times.
“In his mind he thought he was getting robbed,” Bradley said.
Diestler also admitted to shooting at Wade, but claimed he only did so because he thought Stinson’s friends were coming down the stairs with their own weapons.
Freeman said Diestler was telling a self-serving version of events that didn’t match up to what he told police after his arrest. During those interviews, she said Diestler told police that he had a “three strike” rule and once it was broken, the person who did so was “done.”
“He’d shoot someone in cold blood
10 times, but he won’t lie under oath?” Freeman said. “… Angie Wade was no threat to Jeremy Diestler and neither was Matthew Stinson.”
Police found a hunting knife, heroin and $800 in cash on Stinson’s body, but the only guns they found at the scene were in Stinson’s apartment along with swords and other bladed weapons.
Following the verdict, Stinson’s father, William Stinson, said the guilty verdict would help bring closure to his family. He said he didn’t agree with a lot of his son’s choices, but what happened to him wasn’t right.
“He didn’t deserve to go out like that,” he said.
Bradley largely declined to comment after the jury returned its decision.
“It’s a tragedy for both families,” he said.
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