XENIA — A witness described to jurors April 22 the Xenia fight that left one woman dead, and one woman in jail for murder.
Tova Wallace-Lee, 21, of Xenia, is being tried in Greene County Common Pleas Court this week for murder and felonious assault. She’s accused of stabbing Tre’Ana Tarver, 19, of Xenia, during an altercation Nov. 3, 2018 on East Church Street.
“Ladies and gentlemen, when the sun came up on November 3, 2018, Tre’Ana Tarver was a 19-year-old student at Central State and she had her whole life ahead of her. The defendant, Tova Wallace, was 21-years-old and she lived right down the street from this courthouse … she also had a full life ahead of her,” Assistant Prosecutor David Hayes said in opening statements.
“Before the sun rose on November 4, 2018, Tre’Ana Tarver was dead,” Hayes continued. “And Tre’Ana Tarver died from a knife wound to the heart. A knife that was plunged into her chest by the defendant, Tova Wallace.”
Mahogany Bruce, 19, of Xenia, took the stand as the state’s first witness.
Bruce said Wallace-Lee and Tarver were having issues “over a guy” and had spoken about meeting up to fight. Bruce said she told Tarver she would drive her to meet Wallace-Lee “to get it over with.“ Hayes showed the jury Facebook messages that the three of them allegedly exchanged throughout the day, with Wallace-Lee and Tarver agreeing to fight.
Bruce said she picked up Tarver and another friend that night. Then the three of them — without weapons, she said — met Wallace-Lee a little after 11 p.m. in her backyard, where Wallace-Lee allegedly suggested. According to Bruce, she and the friend stood next to her car in the parking lot while Tarver approached the yard. Wallace-Lee was standing on the porch, she said.
“They start to argue. Tova starts walking closer to Tre’Ana. Tre’Ana swings — I don’t know if it connected. They start fist fighting with each other. They start tussling back and forth into the yard. That’s when I see Tre’Ana on the ground and she screams, ‘She’s stabbing me! She’s stabbing me!’” Bruce explained to the jury.
Bruce said she ran to Tarver, pushed Wallace-Lee off of her, and tried to locate the wound.
“I touched her shirt and there was blood on my hands,” she said. “I found it, took off my hoodie and put it on Tre’Ana … and applied pressure to it.”
Hayes approached the table, put on black gloves and pulled out a neon yellow sweatshirt, blood-stained, from an evidence bag. He held it up to the jury.
Then he played a 9-11 call recording for the court — a plea for an ambulance, voices screaming, sirens.
While Defense Attorney Kirsten Knight has not yet had the chance to present her case, she did cross-examine Bruce during testimony.
“What did you think was going to happen?” Knight asked.
“That it was just going to be a fair fight,” Bruce responded.
“You volunteered to take her there, involved yourself?” Knight asked.
“Yes,” Bruce replied.
“The three of you went? One of Tova?” Knight asked.
“Yes,” Bruce replied.
“So it was three against one, wasn’t it?” Knight asked.
Bruce responded ‘no’, stating that she was by her car the whole time, not intending to fight.
“What happened November 3, 2018 was a tragedy,” Knight said earlier, opening to the jury. “You are going to hear a number of versions of the events … Please listen carefully to the evidence. The evidence will show that my client acted in self-defense.”
Testimony will resume 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 23 in Judge Michael A. Buckwalter’s courtroom.