Friday, June 23, 2000

Police: Senior's remark led to death

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — A man was beaten, stomped and his neck broken, ultimately leading to his death, for a remark made in a men's restroom at a public park, police testified Thursday.

        Investigators say Thomas Back, a 21-year-old Covington man, beat and kicked 80-year-old Eugene Schulkers of Dayton, Ky., at James Taylor Park on June 5. Mr. Schulkers died June 14.

        Newport police Sgt. Jerry Roy and others who spoke during the 45-minute-long preliminary hearing in Campbell District Court did not specifically describe what Mr. Schulkers allegedly said.

        Instead, Sgt. Roy concentrated on what was said after the attack.

        Sgt. Roy told the court that Mr. Back made the initial 911 call about the beating and told police a black man had beaten Mr. Schulkers in the restroom.

        Later, Mr. Back changed his story and accused a white man, Jerry Thomas, 39, of Newport, of the crime.

        Sgt. Roy said Mr. Back, who worked at the McDonald's restaurant at Fourth and Philadelphia streets in Covington, said he made up the story about a black man being involved be cause he was afraid of Mr. Thomas, with whom he had been drinking that day.

        In the hospital, Sgt. Roy interviewed Mr. Schulkers, who said his assailant was not black but white with dark hair. That description didn't fit Mr. Thomas, but it did fit Mr. Back, Sgt. Roy said.

        “On June 19, Mr. Back made a statement that he struck and kicked Mr. Schulkers after Mr. Schulkers made a remark to him in the restroom at the park,” the police officer testified.

        Under questioning by Mr. Back's court-appointed attorney, Steven Dowell, Sgt. Roy said police did not think robbery was the motive for the beating. Mr. Schulkers still had a large sum of money on him when he was taken to the hospital.

        Mr. Thomas, who had been arrested, was released Thursday from the Campbell County Detention Center.

        Judge Karen Thomas bound Mr. Back over to a Campbell County grand jury on the murder charge. Mr. Dowell asked Judge Thomas to reduce Mr. Back's $500,000 cash bond. She lowered it to $250,000 cash or $500,000 in property.

        “I understand that this is a large amount for bond, but this is a murder charge,” Judge Thomas said.


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