Sentencing for attack on Steve Hindi & Adam Fahnestock by alleged cockfighters is set for November 10
IRONTON, Ohio––James V. “Bub” Newcomb II, 54, of Waterloo, Ohio, was on November 5, 2021 convicted of two felonies and one misdemeanor resulting from his January 3, 2021 attack on Showing Animals Respect & Kindness [SHARK] founder Steve Hindi and SHARK investigator Adam Fahnestock as they launched a drone to investigate an alleged cockfight on Newcomb’s property.
The SHARK investigation was part of a nationwide campaign against cockfighting funded by the Humane Farming Association.
Newcomb was convicted after a two-day jury trial conducted by Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas Judge Andrew Ballard.
Felonious assault & felony theft
Hindi told ANIMALS 24-7 shortly after the trial concluded that Newcomb was convicted of felonious assault for using his pickup truck to ram Fahnestock’s car, running it off the road into a deep ditch. An insurance investigator later declared the car a total loss.
Hindi said Newcomb was also convicted of felony theft for causing the loss or destruction of the SHARK drone, the drone controller, and miscellaneous camera equipment.
Hindi was disappointed, he said, that Newcomb was convicted only of misdemeanor assault for injuring him.
“Put your affairs in order”
Newcomb is to be sentenced at the Lawrence County courthouse in Ironton on November 10, 2021. Judge Ballard warned Newcomb to put his affairs in order, as the multiple convictions convey the possibility of prison time.
Shannon Lee Clark, 36, a distant Newcomb neighbor, originally indicted with Newcomb, was allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges, and is expected to receive only a probationary sentence after testifying against Newcomb, Hindi said.
Hindi and fellow SHARK investigator Janet Enoch, who was also in the courtroom, told ANIMALS 24-7 that Clark’s testimony significantly misrepresented the events of January 3, 2021, as did Newcomb’s own testimony.
Hindi suffered multiple injuries from being tackled, thrown to the ground, and allegedly repeatedly kicked by both men, including a head wound that required six surgical staples to close, a separated back, and a broken rib.
Hidden camera documented assault
Unknown to Newcomb and Clark at the time, Hindi was able to document much of what transpired with a hidden camera.
The video showed an enraged Newcomb charging Hindi, who had just launched a SHARK drone from near where the Newcomb driveway meets the public highway at 366 Wiseman Cemetery Hill Road, between Ironton and Waterloo, Ohio.
The drone was initially visible, as was the Newcomb mailbox and, in the background, both Shannon Clark and the Newcomb front gate.
Seizing the drone controller, Newcomb smashed it against the mailbox, thereby ensuring that the drone would crash, since it could not be safely landed without the controller.
Accused denied second assault
Hindi testified that both Newcomb and Clark participated in kicking and beating him, but the video did not clearly capture Clark’s face at that point. This may be why Clark was offered the plea bargain for his testimony, and why Newcomb was convicted only of misdemeanor assault against Hindi.
Hindi testified that after Fahnestock drove away, following his order, Hindi himself fled on foot to the nearby Etna/Waterloo Road, but was pursued, blocked by a truck, and beaten further.
Again shaking himself loose, Hindi tumbled down a steep slope to nearby Johns Creek, where he found cover and hid until his cell phone rang, informing him that Fahnestock had been run off the road at the edge of Waterloo. Fahnestock’s dash camera captured brief video images of Newcomb driving the pickup truck that repeatedly rammed his car from behind.
Hindi at that point had no idea who his assailants were, but working from his video images, ANIMALS 24-7 photo and art editor Beth Clifton made the first identification of Newcomb within hours.
Hindi told ANIMALS 24-7 that in court both Newcomb and Clark denied having confronted and assaulted him on the Etna/Waterloo road.
A Lawrence County, Ohio grand jury on February 23, 2021 originally indicted Newcomb on two counts of second degree felonious assault, two counts of fifth degree felony theft, and one count of felonious evidence tampering.
Clark was originally indicted on one count of second degree felonious assault, one count of fifth degree felony theft, and one count of felonious evidence tampering.
The original charges against both men were apparently consolidated before the trial.
Posted Newcomb’s wife Beckie Newcomb to Facebook on October 26, 2021, “Yesterday we had our final pre trial. The prosecutor offered Bub 16-20 years. Of course we turned it down.”
“I can’t lose my husband over this”
In the same posting Beckie Newcomb issued extensive allegations against Hindi, contending falsely that “He has a record way longer than mine or Bubs.”
Hindi has never been convicted of an offense other than hunter harassment, and that only on one occasion, approximately 25 years ago.
“Reach out to the Lawrence County prosecutor,” Beckie Newcomb urged. “Let him know that you do not support his case. Let them know that here in Lawrence County Ohio we take care of our farms [the Newcombs, apart from raising gamefowl, operated a junkyard] and don’t want outsiders coming in to tell us how to do it. I’m going to ask y’all to fill the courthouse on November 4 to show your support.
“I can’t lose my husband over this,” Beckie Newcomb finished.
Responded a poster identified as Renfro L Kenneth, “One shot is all it takes.”
Added a Chad Micheal, “Back in the 70s they take um out. Problem solved.”
Hindi and Enoch told ANIMALS 24-7 that they observed heavy security both in the courtroom and in the corridors of the courthouse.
Judge Ballard cautioned about fifteen James Newcomb supporters against courtroom outbursts, and ordered a man who wore a t-shirt supporting Newcomb not to stand up, turn around, or do anything else that would display the shirt to the jury.
The scheduled November 10, 2021 sentencing is expected to take James Newcomb’s priors into consideration.
Even without the priors, the penalties for the charges of which James Newcomb was convicted would be significant.
Second degree felonious assault in Ohio, defined as “knowingly causing serious physical harm,” carries a potential penalty of up to eight years in prison, a fine of $15,000, and five years on probation.
A fifth-degree felony theft conviction carries a prison sentence ranging from six to 12 months in prison, and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
The misdemeanor assault conviction could cost Newcomb 180 days in jail plus a fine of $1,000.
Because Newcomb has prior convictions, including a prior felony conviction, his sentences could potentially be doubled.
Public records indicate that a James Newcomb was charged with domestic violence in Cincinnati on September 1, 1999, but the charge was dropped three weeks later.
A James Newcomb was charged with littering on October 27, 2001, also in the Cincinnati area.
Cincinnati is 132 miles north of Ironton and Waterloo, so the accused in those cases may not have been the same James Newcomb.
A James Newcomb was charged with drug abuse and possession of drug paraphernalia on March 11, 2005, however, in Portsmouth, Ohio, just 27 miles north. The paraphernalia charge was dropped after this James Newcomb pleaded guilty to the drug abuse charge.
Beckie has rap sheet too
Arrested on July 19, 2010, James and Rebecca [Beckie] Newcomb, both of 366 Township Road 267, Waterloo, Ohio, the same location as the alleged first assault on Steve Hindi, on February 17, 2011 pleaded not guilty to trafficking in marijuana, a fourth degree felony.
James Newcomb and his wife Rebecca “Beckie” Newcomb operate the Newcomb Game Farm at this address. Beckie Newcomb is also secretary of the Ohio Game Bird Association, headquartered at the same address.
James Newcomb was released from custody pending trial on the 2011 charges on $50,000 bond.
Rebecca Newcomb reversed her plea to guilty on March 24, 2011, and was sentenced to a six-month suspended jail term plus three years on probation.
James Newcomb was convicted on April 6, 2011.
Cockfighting to the end
Apparently undeterred by the charges James Newcomb was facing, including the prospect of prison time, James and Beckie Newcomb on July 18, 2021 “held another illegal cockfight on their property,” Hindi informed the Lawrence County commissioners.
SHARK investigators obtained extensive video documentation of the cockfight.
“James and Beckie Newcomb are clearly shown in those images,” Hindi said, posting examples to Facebook.
SHARK also documented that Lawrence County sheriff’s deputy Michael Delawder, dispatched to the scene, conversed with both James and Beckie Newcomb in view of dozens of parked vehicles belonging to alleged cockfight spectators.
Delawder, however, reported that “he did not make contact with anyone on the Newcomb property. This is false,” Hindi charged. “Deputy Delawder lied.”
Hindi asked at the time that James Newcomb’s bail bond be revoked, and that Beckie Newcomb be charged with attending a cockfight, but Lawrence County prosecutor Brigham M. Anderson took no action in response.