The old saying “blood is thicker than water” may be true for some people but it’s sadly not true for everyone. Tragically, there are some people in the world whose problems in life lead them to do unthinkable things, and that includes murder.
Having lived with his wife Jackie at his adoptive sister’s place, Christopher Kirby was indebted to her for her kindness. However, he decided to repay that kindness with violence after he was told he needed to get his life together and move out.
In April, 2018, Kirby’s wife Jaqueline “Jackie” Kirby, was sentenced to three years probation for handling stolen goods and bringing them into the family home in South Lebanon. She was also charged with fraudulent activity on credit cards and was ordered to enter the Women’s Recovery Center for substance abuse in Xenia due to her addiction to drugs.
The bulk of the Kirby family lived in the house, although after Kirby’s grandmother passed away in recent years, the house was left overcrowded and in total disarray. There was also substantial tension building up between the family members – mainly surrounding money and the lack of it. But no one thought violence would ensue, even if Kirby was known to have a temper.
As the house officially belonged to Deborah Power, who was adopted as a baby, there came the point when the situation at home became untenable. Power, 63, felt she had no choice but to ask her brother and his wife to move out as they were not bringing home any legal income and were dealing in stolen goods and credit card theft. Kirby snapped when his sister insisted he moved out.
Another relative living at the overcrowded home on South Broadway, Greg Kirby, explained according to a Dayton Daily News report: “Debbie told them they had to leave. The kids could stay.” The couple had been asked nicely to leave the home after the money they had withdrawn from the family bank account caused it to become overdrawn.
The Kirby’s son Nathan, 10, testified in court about a 911 call he made after hearing a deaf relative also living in the home screaming. That relative was Ronnie Power, who was on the floor bleeding profusely from the head. As the husband of Deborah, Power testified after the attack: “My wife and I had discussed having them move. We didn’t want any more stolen stuff coming up.”
Many Little Things
Power also spoke in court about how the family had fallen apart after the grandmother died. He explained that tensions were raised after tools and money from home went missing. “Many little things,” went missing, he said, “That and money problems. They wanted more money for drugs,” he added.
Power explained in court that Kirby “would go out, come back and use drugs,” sometimes inside the house and sometimes inside his car. Power also explained that Kirby and his wife had major problems with pain pills and heroin. And that situation was a bad one as little Nathan and his younger sister needed to share a bedroom with their parents while they abused drugs together.
Whether the drugs were directly responsible or not no one knows for sure. However, Nathan testified in court that his father had a taped belt which he used to beat him and his sister with and made him sign after each punishment. Life for poor Nathan was a nightmare as he did what he could to protect himself and his sister.
Ronnie Power broke some of the tension in court when he explained that he had met Deborah Power in high school in Middletown. The couple married after meeting a few years later after Power returned from serving in the U.S. Navy. “We started dancing. We got married in February of 1974,” he reminisced.
Power also spoke about his dead wife’s love for animals and the fact that she once owned 300 rabbits. But after Kirby beat Power around the head, he turned his attention to his sister Deborah and beat her so badly that she died in the family home from serious wounds.
Christopher Kirby stood little chance in court when the mitigation phase of trial came before the judges. A three-judge panel quickly found him guilty of murdering his sister and attempting to murder his brother-in-law. He was also found guilty of aggravated robbery, felonious assault, and grand theft.
It’s unclear what caused Kirby to snap so badly on that day back in September. But when he did, he took a baseball bat and beat his adopted sister and her husband mercilessly and without remorse. While the murder and attempted murder may not have been premeditated, they were brutal, and Kirby clearly showed intent to kill.
Both the prosecution and the defense rested after hearing the long testimony from Detective Jay Henning who worked the case. It was the third day of the trial by this stage and most of the morning was spent watching video recordings of Kirby’s statement where he admitted to beating both Deborah and Power with a bat.
Nowhere to Go
As Kirby told the detectives working the case: “We didn’t have nowhere to go,” and for that Kirby saw fit to beat his sister to death. He also admitted that he and his wife traded a TV that he took after the assaults so he could buy some heroin. But Kirby had reasons for why he turned violent, and he explained them to investigators.
According to Kirby, he saw red after his plan to reimburse his sister and her husband fell apart. He had some ways to make money, even if they were illegal, but when the family’s social security payments weren’t enough to sustain the household he knew he was in a fix and that’s when he claims he reached for the baseball bat.
Life had become desperate for Kirby who was charged with murder, attempted murder, and robbery.”Does Ohio have the death penalty? Can I ask for it?” Kirby asked, showing his will to receive the death penalty for what he did to his sister. Kirby added that he was upset that Ronnie Power had reprimanded his daughter and felt he had to take some action against him.
Kirby said to the detectives about the situation with Power: “He hurt my little girl. I couldn’t take it anymore.” But at the same time, he also tried to minimize his wife’s involvement in the murder and attempted murder asking the detectives, “Can Jackie go home?”
Detective Henning explained to the court that he was at the Kirby home investigating the felonious assault on Power. It was at that stage when police found Deborah’s dead body behind a locked door to one of the rooms in the house. But the course of events surrounding the murder were cloudy and detectives needed to clarify matters.
Due to the specific laws in Ohio, three judges were tasked with hearing and sentencing this tragic case instead of a jury. It is now for the judges to decide between them whether or not Kirby will face the death penalty for the murder of his sister and the attempted murder of his brother-in-law.
All About Drugs
Kirby’s defense team knew that defending this client would be a tough one. As his main defense attorney John Kaspar explained to the judges, “This is really a story about drugs.” But even if it was all about drugs, Kirby cannot use that as a defense as he waits to hear whether he will receive a life sentence or pay for his crimes with his own life.