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Windham man faces charge of murder

By Deanna Hohler BottarRecord-Courier staff write Published: August 8, 1997 12:00 AM

John A. Smith, 32, of 9584 Wolf Road, was booked into the Portage County Jail at 3:22 a.m. today. He was arrested by Windham police and charged in connection with the death of Dana C. Jastal, 31, according to jail records.

Windham police officers were dispatched to a report of a fight at a residence in the 8900 block of Maple Grove Road at 10:22 p.m. Thursday.

"Upon arrival, several people directed officers to the east side of the building, where officers saw the victim, Dana C. Jastal, lying on the ground," said Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci.

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There was a large quantity of blood on Jastal's face and head. She was unconscious and unresponsive but still alive when police arrived. Jastal was breathing with difficulty when she was transported to Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna by an emergency rescue squad.

She was then flown via helicopter to Cleveland's MetroHealth Medical Center where she was pronounced dead at 2:55 a.m., Vigluicci said.

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"Witnesses at the scene stated that the suspect was arguing with her and struck her with his hand. And then (he) picked up a folding metal chair, swung the chair at her and struck her in the back of the head," Vigluicci added.

Smith and Jastal are believed to have been at a social gathering at the residence at the time of the altercation, because there were people around when the fight broke out. Some witnesses told police about being at a bonfire.

Smith, who originally was charged with felonious assault before the charge was upgraded to murder when Jastal died, fled the scene on foot and was later arrested by Windham police.

Smith will be arraigned today in Portage County Municipal Court in Ravenna. His prior record includes being charged in Windham and Streetsboro with assaulting a police officer, domestic violence, theft, criminal damaging, aggravated menacing, felonious assault and disorderly conduct since 1984, according to the prosecutor's office.

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