Widow: Defense attorney Mark Stanziano had offered to help man who killed him

bestep@herald-leader.comJune 27, 2014 

SOMERSET — The gunman charged with shooting and killing well-known defense attorney Mark J. Stanziano as he arrived for work early Friday told police he was mad because Stanziano wouldn't help him with a problem.

However, Stanziano's widow said he had helped the troubled man many times, even offering to pay for him to go for mental-health treatment within the last 10 days.

Clinton David Inabnit, 40, approached Stanziano as he was standing on the sidewalk outside his office just before 8 a.m. and fired seven shots from a 9mm Taurus pistol, hitting Stanziano several times, police said.

Inabnit fired from a distance of no more than 15 feet, leaving Stanziano no chance to escape, said Capt. Shannon Smith, spokesman for the Somerset Police Department.

"There was really nowhere for Stanziano to go," Smith said.

The brazen daylight shooting on a busy downtown street shocked people. Stanziano's office is less than a block from the rear of the county courthouse and the entrance to the county sheriff's office.

A sheriff's detective who was outside, John Hutchinson, witnessed the shooting, but was too far away and had too little time to intervene or try to shoot Inabnit, Smith said.

However, Hutchinson was able to reach Inabnit quickly, ordering him to drop his gun and handcuffing him without incident. The arrest citation in the case listed the time of the shooting at 7:59 a.m. and the time of arrest as 8:01 a.m.

The first city police officer on the scene, Robert Baugh, is a certified paramedic and immediately began working to help Stanziano, who was critically wounded.

"'We're gonna need an airway,'" Baugh told ambulance crew members when they arrived, Smith said.

Emergency workers rushed Stanziano, 57, to the Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset, but he was pronounced dead there at 9:12 a.m.

Stanziano was married and had four daughters.

Police charged Inabnit with murder. No bond had been set for him Friday.

A deputy at the Pulaski County Jail said Inabnit had declined to speak with reporters.

Smith said police were trying to figure out Friday how Inabnit got the gun, among other things.

Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy Montgomery said there were no aggravating circumstance in the shooting that would qualify it as a death-penalty crime.

The events that led to the shooting started Thursday afternoon, when Inabnit asked Stanziano for help with a problem, Smith said.

Police did not say what the problem was, but said it did not appear to have been something an attorney could help with.

Inabnit told police that he got mad at Stanziano for not helping with the problem and because Stanziano laughed at him about the issue. Inabnit said he decided to kill Stanziano as a result, according to the citation.

Inabnit lived in a run-down apartment at 204 West Mount Vernon Street, immediately across from Stanziano's office at 207 West Mount Vernon, and reportedly sometimes walked around with a gun.

Inabnit admitted loading the 9mm pistol used in the shooting and waiting for Stanziano to arrive for work, according to the arrest citation.

As Stanziano walked toward his office, Inabnit approached him "with gun raised" and shot him, according to the citation.

Stanziano was hit in the torso and fell on the sidewalk in front of his office.

Stanziano's widow, Bethany L. Stanziano, who practiced law with him, said it was not true that her husband laughed at Inabnit.

Inabnit frequently buttonholed Stanziano and talked to him, and Stanziano always listened and tried to help him or give him advice, Bethany Stanziano said.

She said it was clear Inabnit had mental problems. Within the last 10 days, her husband had offered to pay for Inabnit to go to a doctor and to help him get back on his medication, Bethany Stanziano said.

This week, Stanziano had bought lunch for Inabnit at a local restaurant and also took him some donut holes so he would have something to eat the next morning, Bethany Stanziano said.

"He helped him every time this man came to Mark," she said.

Bethany Stanziano declined to say what supposed problem Inabnit wanted help with Thursday, though she confirmed that before he left, Inabnit said he would kill Stanziano.

Inabnit had more than half a dozen arrests on his record in Pulaski County before Friday's shooting, including charges of public intoxication, drunken driving, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and terroristic threatening.

In a case in 2004, police found Inabnit sitting in a car stuck in a ditch. After police got him out of the car, he wanted to use the bathroom. When they told him to wait until they took him to jail, he urinated in the middle of the street, according to the citation.

In another case, in 2006, police responding to a call about a drunk man found Inabnit lying in the bushes in front of his house. Inabnit "stated that every time he drinks it causes him trouble," according to the citation.

The next year, an officer used a Taser on Inabnit to subdue him as he struggled with officers trying to arrest him. Inabnit yelled "Don't f--k with me, I'll cut your throats," according to the citation.

Court records indicate Inabnit held jobs at times but was unemployed in other cases. He said in February 2007 that he had no income and had $8,000 in medical bills.

There is no indication Inabnit was drunk when he allegedly shot Stanziano, Smith said.

Marty Taylor, a bookkeeper for an accountant who had an office in the same building as Stanziano for about three years, said Inabnit often stopped Stanziano on the sidewalk on his way to or from court, agitated or cursing at times.

Stanziano would talk to Inabnit and try to help him or calm ​him, Taylor said.

Inabnit made Stanziano's assistant nervous, but Stanziano said he was harmless, Taylor said.

Robert Bell, an evangelist who lives near the scene of the shooting, said he sometimes talked to Inabnit and felt he had mental problems.

"He was the kind of feller if he didn't get his way, he'd go off," Bell said. "He wasn't right, you could tell that."

Bell said he had also known Stanziano for years. Stanziano didn't look down on anyone and tried to help people, Bell said.

"It broke my heart," he said of the shooting.

Bill Estep: (606) 678-4655. Twitter: @billestep1.

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