An ax, gun and vest, part II: Suspect lied

The suspect, Derrick Harman, is a felon paroled seven months ago.



YOUNGSTOWN — Forrest Adams said his blood-splattered kitchen “looked like a murder scene.”

He pointed to blood on the stove and floor and a bullet lodged in a kitchen drawer that wasn’t discovered until Wednesday. The bullet, fired by his son, 13-year-old Galen Hobdy, tore through an intruder around 11 p.m. Monday.

Adams, 38, gave a tour of his Belden Avenue home to a Vindicator reporter and photographer, pointing to blood smears and a broken glass coffee table. Family members are helping with the cleanup. The house has a fresh lemon smell from the scouring products.

He showed the basement where the intruder’s bandanna still clings to a wall. A bulletproof vest that came off during their struggle and tumble down the basement steps was taken by police.

Adams sat on the porch Wednesday afternoon to talk about the ordeal that left him with knife wounds to his left hand and upper arm. It took 32 stitches to close the gaping wounds, and surgery will be needed for his hand. The cuts came from a kitchen knife the intruder snatched after dropping his gun.

“I took the buyout from GM and was going to truck driver school, but I can’t drive,” Adams said, holding up his injured hand. “I had only three weeks to go. They said I’ve got six months to finish.”

He also has cuts on his knees and shins. He managed to slice the unwanted visitor with a heavy ceremonial ax that he grabbed from the living room wall. A second decorative — but lethal — ax remains on the wall. Police took the one used to cut the intruder.

False identity

Police said the man axed by Adams and shot by Galen during the home invasion was not 18-year-old Dennis Pixley, but Derrick Harman, a violent felon paroled from prison seven months ago. Harman, 28, who listed an Eastway Drive address, remained in critical condition at St. Elizabeth Health Center.

Police filed charges of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and two counts of felonious assault against him. He will be arraigned once released from the hospital.

Capt. Kenneth Centorame, chief of detectives, said Harman’s girlfriend identified him, police compared photos and Harman himself admitted his true identity, saying he has used Pixley’s name from time to time because Pixley has never been in trouble.

After seeing news reports, Pixley’s mother alerted police, telling them her son’s wallet was lost or stolen a year ago and she feared someone was using his identity.

Harman offered a variety of reasons for giving a false ID when confronted at the hospital, Centorame said. “He was scared, being on parole,” the captain said.

Adams said his son, who lives in Akron with his mother, had been visiting for the summer but returned home until things quiet down. “He’s fine, just worried about me,” the father said.

Adams said he had the intruder in a headlock and moved a bit so that Galen could shoot the man. Galen fired once and then the gun jammed. The gun was Harman’s, dropped during a struggle with Adams, police said.

Early on, Centorame said the case presented many inconsistencies, with Harman (then calling himself Pixley) saying he knew the homeowner on Belden and had been invited into the house. The investigation now holds up the homeowner’s version of what happened, he said.

Surprised on the porch

Adams and Galen told police that a gunman wearing a bulletproof vest and a bandanna to cover his face surprised them on the porch when they arrived home around 11 p.m. Monday and forced them to open the door. The intruder screamed that he wanted all their money and threatened them with the gun.

Adams and his son were told to strip to their underwear before being marched into the dining room and ordered to lie on the floor. When Adams told the intruder he had no money, the suspect, now identified as Harman, fired one round into the floor and then yelled: “Don’t [expletive] with me — I will shoot your kid!”

Harman then ordered Adams and his son upstairs and into a bedroom. While they sat on the bed, the intruder rummaged through the room, finding nothing, reports show.

In the hallway, Harman opened a closet and, while searching inside, lowered his weapon. Adams grabbed the gun and yelled for his son to go downstairs as he slammed the suspect into the wall. During the struggle, Harman fired one shot before falling down the stairs, hitting his head on the bannister and dropping the gun.

Adams said he saw the intruder run to a waiting car that left skid marks as it sped off. Police said a woman dropped Harman off at the hospital.

In October 1998, Harman pleaded guilty in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to assault and three counts of aggravated robbery. Two of three firearm specifications were dismissed in a plea agreement, records show.

Harman was sentenced to three years in prison for the firearm specification and five years for the robbery convictions. He was incarcerated from Dec. 16, 1998, to Nov. 25, 2006, and then began five years’ parole.