By Karen Hall
A Lewisburg man was found guilty of attempted first-degree murder Friday evening, after a three-day trial.
The jury deliberated for about an hour before returning the guilty verdict for Ryan Haase, 35, who will be sentenced Oct. 1.
Whether Haase had thrown the boiling oil on his former girlfriend, Lindsey Arp, 23, was never in question.
"It gets thrown by the defendant on the victim, there's no two ways about it," said court-appointed defense attorney Hershel Koger in opening arguments.
At issue was premeditation - whether Haase acted intentionally, after the exercise of reflection and judgment. If he did, it was attempted first-degree murder; if not, it was attempted second-degree murder, or even attempted voluntary manslaughter.
Haase took the stand in his own defense Friday morning, and spent several hours answering his attorney's questions.
"When you threw that extremely hot oil on Lindsey, were you trying to kill her?" Koger asked.
"Why did you do it?"
"I lost control."
"You've seen the horrific damage done to her?"
"Yes, I did."
"Would you describe her as a very good looking young woman before this happened?"
"Yes," Haase answered very softly.
"Did you know it could have potentially killed her?"
"No, I didn't."
Under cross-examination by Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard, Haase admitted, "I guess I intended to hurt her; I hurt her, I did, I hurt her bad. I didn't intend to take her life."
"Are you admitting to attempted first-degree murder?" Barnard asked.
"No," Haase replied. "I'm admitting to throwing hot oil on my girlfriend Lindsey Arp and hurting her real bad. I did not think anything like that would be life-threatening."
Haase denied threatening to kill Arp, denied saying he had "a one-way ticket to jail," and said, "I never hit her that many times.
"She's lying about all of it," Haase said.
"Do you still love her?" Barnard asked.
"Yes, sir," Haase replied.
"You turned her into something hideous," Barnard exclaimed.
"I don't know what I turned her into," Haase said.
"She's scarred all over," said Barnard. "You did that."
"Yes, sir," Haase agreed.
The director of the Vanderbilt Hospital Burns Unit, Dr. Jeffrey Guy, testified Thursday afternoon that when Arp reached the hospital on the morning of April 11, 2011, she was more likely to die than to live. She had deep third-degree burns over 45 percent of her body.
"Can burns like that cause death?" asked Assistant District Attorney Mike Randles.
"Certainly, yes," Guy responded. "If I had my choice as a victim, I would choose a gun shot or a stab wound over a burn."
The doctor went on to testify that the long-term consequences of a burn like Arp's are even more damaging than the burn itself.
"The emotional issues are extraordinarily difficult to deal with," Guy said. Post-traumatic stress disorder and depression are common.
In closing arguments prosecution and defense both urged the jury to stick to the facts of the case, and the law as presented to them by Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler in his jury instructions. Jury members deliberated for about an hour before returning the verdict that Haase was guilty as charged on all three counts.