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Dayton Daily News (OH)
August 11, 1995
Author: Tom Beyerlein DAYTON DAILY NEWS
J.D. Gore and Walter Mullins had been buddies since 1966, when they worked for General Motors in Dayton, and they continued their friendship into retirement, spending companionable afternoons building feeders for birds and squirrels. “We never had an argument in our whole lives,” Gore said. “We were very, very good friends. He would never hurt me and I would never hurt him.” Against such a backdrop, it’s hard to imagine how Gore, 70, a Springboro City Schools bus driver with no prior criminal record, could have put a .22-caliber bullet in his 80-year-old friend’s neck.
Clutching a plastic sack containing a Bible , some other books and prescription antidepressants, Gore turned himself in to the Warren County Jail punctually at 8 a.m. Thursday to be taken to Orient Reception Center, where he’ll begin serving a prison sentence in Mullins’ Dec. 9 death. “I’m a first-timer,” he said, lifting up the little sack. “I don’t even know if I’m allowed to have this much.”
Originally indicted by a grand jury on a charge of murder, Gore pleaded guilty July 26 to negligent homicide, a misdemeanor, and a felony count of carrying a concealed weapon. Judge Neal Bronson of Warren County Common Pleas Court sentenced him to four to 10 years on the weapons charge and six months on the homicide charge, to be served concurrently. Bronson allowed Gore to remain free until Thursday to get his affairs in order.
Gore will be eligible for parole in six months, according to his attorney, Tom Kirby. But I’ll be paying for this the rest of my life,” Gore said. I’ve tried to go over this (in my mind) a million times, I guess.”
“Doc” Mullins, a widower who lived alone, had invited Gore, a fellow Mason, to his home at 3057 Clarksville Road near Caesar Creek Lake that December Friday. When Gore arrived early in the afternoon, Mullins pulled out a big bottle of Jim Beam bourbon.
“We had a sociable drink and I was on heavy medication,” Gore said, adding that he didn’t foresee the consequences of mixing alcohol and the drugs. “What happened after that, I do not know.”
Sgt. Ken McCloud of the Warren County sheriff’s office said a friend of Mullins’ arrived at the house about 6:30 p.m. and found Gore outside the house. Gore told her “I just shot Doc,” McCloud said. The friend called authorities.
Kirby said the evidence suggested Gore had suffered a cut to his forehead before the shooting. It’s possible that Mullins hit Gore in the head with a cast-iron model truck in a struggle, Gore’s attorney said.
Gore fired all four bullets in the small handgun he’d been carrying the last several years for protection. The bullets struck the floor, the ceiling, the TV set and Mullins’ neck, Kirby said. “J.D. has been a respected, upright citizen all these years,” Kirby said. But a handgun “mixed with a little bit of alcohol is like giving a car to a drunken person – they both can be deadly weapons.”
Gore has submitted his resignation to the Springboro school district. He has served as a bus driver on and off for about a decade, since his retirement from GM. “I just hope the parents and kids don’t think they were running around with a maniac,” he said. “This was a very unfortunate thing that happened.”
Warren County Prosecutor Timothy Oliver said, “What you had here was two lifelong friends, both of them substantially under the influence of alcohol. This whole matter (of a plea bargain) was discussed with the family of the victim. They felt that Gore should be punished for what he did but that he shouldn’t necessarily spend the rest of his life in prison.”
Gore said he takes antidepressants because he has been devastated by the loss of both his children. His son died at 19 in a car crash in 1970, his daughter at 34 of a brain tumor in 1985. Gore and his wife of 46 years, Molly, raised their granddaughter after their daughter’s death.
Kirby said Gore is “very remorseful. If anybody knows what it’s like to lose somebody, it’s J.D. Now one of his best friends has died, too, and he can’t get over the fact that he had something to do with it.”
Record Number: 9508110120
Copyright, 1995, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.