Stahlman Trial Begins

April 8, 2009

All Posts, News

All the little tragedies climax in either an operating room, a courtroom or a morgue. The little tragedy of one-time Outlaws Motorcycle Club member Ronald Stahlman has found its moment in an old, stone courthouse in Warren, Ohio.

On April 28, 1979, Stahlman went out drinking in Warren with friends. One of the friends, Roger Collins, was driving Stahlman home in his pickup truck when he rear-ended a car driven by 18-year-old Bernard Williamson. It was 3:30 on the morning of the 29th.

Williamson jumped out of his car and wanted to fight. Williamson’s passenger, a woman named Debbie Bush went to a phone booth to call police. Two witnesses, Glen Ellison and Patricia Strickland, remember that 29 years ago in the middle of the night Williamson was beating Collins and Stahlman got out of the truck to help him.


When the police arrived they found that Williamson had been stabbed nine times. He died in the street.

There is no physical evidence in the case. There is no murder weapon. The police who investigated the killing are dead or unable to testify. Some of the crime scene photographs have disappeared. All that is left is the tragedy.

According to prosecutors, after the fight Collins and Stahlman went to Collins’ house in Lordstown, Ohio. Then they went to Franklin, Pennsylvania for a week. Then Stahlman went home and together with his wife Pam and his two small daughters Tina and Rhonda, Stahlman left town.

He Did It

About the time Stahlman was moving out Collins turned himself in and confessed. He confessed that Stahlman had stabbed Williamson. He pled guilty to assault and obstruction of justice and he paid his debt to society with a six month stretch in the Trumbull County jail.

Yesterday Collins testified that he was not even awake when Williamson was stabbed. “I got knocked down pretty quick. I think I was out, too, for a moment.” The next thing Collins knew, he had a cut on his arm and Williamson was “sitting there, leaning on the car, so I ran past him and got into the (truck) cab.”

Then according to Collins, Stahlman confessed what he had done. “We were going down the road. Ron was kind of upset. He says, ‘I think I might have stabbed that guy,'” Collins told the court.

A New Life

Stahlman changed his name to Jim O’Neil. His wife went by her maiden name Pam Liebal. They started a new, good life in a little town named Payson, off the beaten track, in the high pine country halfway between Mesa and Winslow, Arizona. The little girls grew up. The case went cold. The tragic past became a bad dream.

In 1993, before anybody paid much attention to the internet, Jim O’Neil and Pam Liebal had the names on their daughters’ social security cards legally changed to O’Neil. And, fifteen years later that is how tragedy found them.

The Warren police had so little crime in 2005 that a detective named Brian Holmes was told to work cold cases. He reopened the Williamson case and convinced a U.S. Marshall with Warren ties, named Bill Bolden, to work the case with him. Still another police force, this one called the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force, was enlisted in the search for Stahlman.


A snitch told the cold case cops that Stahlman had moved to Phoenix so Holmes and Bolden began to look for him on the internet. Late last year the two discovered that Tina and Rhonda Stahlman residing in Payson, Arizona had legally changed their names to Tina and Rhonda O’Neil. After that it was easy.

Ron Stahlman was quickly arrested, extradited back to Ohio and he has been a prisoner ever since. He was been locked up in the same jail for almost as long as his old friend Roger Collins who is now the chief witness against him.

The prosecution is expected to conclude its case tomorrow. Arguments may be heard as early as Friday. The jury may return a verdict as early as then. And then this particular little tragedy may conclude or maybe it will not.

Maybe Jim O’Neil can return to his life up on the Mogollon Rim or maybe the man he used to be, Ron Stahlman, will never spend another night with his wife again. Maybe it will finally be finished or maybe it is over.

Yesterday the court made Ron Stahlman watch as the prosecution put his wife and his daughters and his mother on the stand. Stahlman had to watch while the man who was once his best friend tried to put him in prison.

And for all of this, Bernard Williamson, who died in a street in Warren, Ohio 29 years ago, is still dead.

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12 Responses to “Stahlman Trial Begins”

  1. Chris Becker Says:

    For those interested, Stahlman pled guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter and agreed to serve 1-10 years in prison.

  2. Rebel Says:

    Dear Chris Becker,

    Yes, I do know who you are. And you know who I am. Good for you.

    I knew about the verdict last week. Some days I do not write. You should be a more humble man. I am guessing that nobody has ever rubbed your face in the dirt. You should have that maturing experience. You should be more humble about what you do to your victims, I think. I am guessing that you are young enough to change.

    Feel free to argue with me, anytime.


  3. Chris Says:

    It’s crazy, every story you post about a1%’er accused or convicted of a crime makes him seem innocent. Must be a huge conspiracy out there……..

  4. Rebel Says:

    Dear Chris,

    Yeah, I’m an asshole.

    Stahlman’s case was fairly straightforward. He probably killed a guy in a street fight back in the golden age of disco. Maybe he didn’t. A reasonable case can be made that he acted in self-defense. Stahlma went on the run, settled down, raised his family, was a good citizen and a good man, then after about 30 years a bunch of cops had nothing better to do than spend about a million bucks chasing this guy down and unleashing many Swat heroes on him. Then a district attorney who I personally believe to be an amoral egomaniac unleashed hell on the guy partly by playing up the fact that he was a member of the Outlaws when he killed the guy in the fight.

    And yeah, I think you’re an asshole, too.


  5. Sieg Says:

    I he drew 1-10, and the date of the crime brought it under the old Ohio law, he could be out in 8 months. If not, he can get a day a month off for doing the usual rehab shit.

    And as usual, the Overseers, in their unblinking wisdom, see fit to destroy, not just a decent man, but a family, and start the circle of violence going all over again.

    I hope his “old friend” is able to meet more “old friends” now that he has shown his true colors.

    Think I’ll look the man up on the ODOC site and see if they can still get squares n such there…

  6. Ol'LadyRider Says:

    Dear Chris:

    Yes. There MUST be. From your comments I am guessing you’re one of the perpetrators of it. That’s just a guess. I thought twice about commenting, but in the end just couldn’t let that arrogant bullshit go.

    There is nothing about the way this story is written that makes Mr. Stahlman “seem innocent.” There is a lot about the way this story is written that makes the entire situation seem a horrible tragedy. Probably because it IS.

    Thank you, Rebel, for your always-honest journalism.

  7. Glenn S. Says:

    If you are just a curious soul who wonders whether the government has turned on its people to the extent that it routinely frames them for major crimes, and finds it hard to believe that they do, look no further than the percentage of death row convicts who have been exonerated due to DNA evidence. Then consider that this country affords more legal protections and resources to those on trial for death penalty offenses than those facing a year, a decade, or life in prison. Consider the fact that the very same criminal “justice” system that was certain enough of guilt and lack of mitigating circumstances to kill someone in those cases where actual innocence was later proven processes hundreds of cases a day. And ask yourself: Are you happy with the odds that you, one of your loved ones, or maybe some total stranger that you’d probably like if you knew him, will not be the victim of such an overzealous system? Are you satisfied that, if you are a loved one finds himself in circumstances where violence is the only way out, the system will treat you fairly and sentence you to time proportional to the circumstances? Are you happy with the fact that your country routinely over-investigates, overcharges and over-sentences people based on their membership in a club that is based on a love for motorcycling. Would it be okay if they did the same thing to members of the Lions Club?

    Not so much as a conspiracy as a culture that no longer gives a damn if the criminal justice system is based on fairness.

  8. Sieg Says:

    Chris Becker is the ADA in Warren, Ohio. His contact info is in another of the stories about this assault on ALL of our liberties on this website.


  9. Rebel Says:

    Dear Sieg,

    Chris Becker was the very first guy I ever banned from this site.


  10. Sieg Says:

    “Chris Becker was the very first guy I ever banned from this site”

    Good way to start, Rebel, and I did enjoy reading where you told him to piss off.

  11. Rhonda Says:

    Unfortunately his good time only counted though his first parole hearing. After that was denied he was given no more good time.

    He was granted parole from the parole board at his 2nd hearing in September. But, he is still in there. Even though the board approved his parole- there is a 30 day period where the victims family gets to oppose the decision. That period ended November 5th. We still do not know if anyone opposed it. We should know in about a month. If they opposed it- the parole board will most likely revoke his parole and keep him in and he will get flopped again for a few more years- then get another parole hearing and do it all over.
    I just wish his “friend” that was there with him that night would come clean and tell the truth. It’s wrong he got 6 months for rolling over on Ron and Ron gets 1-10. I know he thinks he got away with it in this life- but, he wont escape justice when he dies.

  12. jj solari Says:

    i like the way he says “stahlman agreed to” serve a year, or maybe ten, in jail. HAHAHAHAHA this is public servant-ese for “I am going to spend my life twisting reality and right and wrong and logic and truth and facts and honesty into something completely pathological and aberrant, and not only that – you are going to pay me to do it and then give me a fat retirement.” i dont think anyone agrees to serve a year or maybe ten in jail. this is the kind of definition of the word “agree” a commie korean chinese bolshevik idiot sociopath uses to define the word agree. OR an american prosecutor.

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