YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A police officer who responded to a stabbing death in June of 2019 at a Coitsville hotel testified under cross examination that the suspect told her he had to stab the victim to protect himself.
Former Lowellville police officer Brooke McCon testified that Francis Rydarowicz, 50, who is charged with aggravated murder and murder for the June 22, 2019 stabbing death of his estranged wife Katherine at the King’s Hotel on U.S. 422 in Coitsville, told her that he acted in self defense.
“He said, ‘She was going to kill me so I had to do it,'” McCon testified under questioning from defense lawyer John Juhasz.
Testimony began Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court before Judge Anthony Donofrio after a jury was selected Monday.
Earlier, under direct examination from Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Paris, McCon said she was called to the hotel to back up a Coitsville officer who was called first.
She saw Rydarowicz standing in the doorway of a room and told him to go back inside. Rydarowicz was covered in blood, McCon testified.
At first, police were called to the hotel for a gunshot wound to the head before learning that Katherine Rydarowicz had been stabbed.
McCon testified when she asked Rydarowicz where the weapon was, he pointed to a knife on a table at the end of the bed.
“He said he used it,” McCon testified.
An earlier witness, Robert Garber, who was a friend of Katherine Rydarowicz and was romantically involved with her several years ago, testified that he reluctantly agreed to a request by her to take her to the hotel to meet her husband so she could retrieve some belongings.
Garber said he had some misgivings because of the way he said Francis Rydarowicz had treated her in the past.
“I didn’t think it was such a good idea because of the circumstances,” Garber said. “She told me of her relationship.”
Garber testified he watched from a restaurant across the street from the hotel as Katherine Rydarowicz pulled in with her truck and she could see her taking things to her truck. However, after there was a long delay following one of her trips back inside, Garber said he texted her three times without getting an answer before a police car showed up.
In the meantime he had moved outside and saw the police officer performing first aid on someone in the parking lot. It was Katherine Rydarowicz, but he said it took several minutes for that reality to sink in.
“I didn’t want to believe it,” he said.