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Trial Begins For AIDS-infected Man Charged With Attempted Murder

December 16, 1991

CINCINNATI (AP) _ An AIDS-infected man went on trial Monday on charges he tried to kill three sheriff’s officers and a nurse by spitting his infected blood at them.

Steve O’Banion, 40, who is charged with four counts of attempted murder, claims officers beat him up after his arrest Sept. 3 for jaywalking.

As the trial started, homosexual-rights activists marched in protest downtown, charging authorities with harassing homosexuals.

Officer Thomas Prem, who arrested O’Banion for jaywalking, testified in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court that O’Banion resisted arrest and received cuts on the nose, shoulders and forehead while police tried to restrain him.

Monica Humphries, a nurse on duty that night at the county jail, said that after O’Banion was brought there he became angry and told her: ‴I have AIDS. I’m going to die, and all you ... are going to die with me.‴

She said O’Banion spit in her face, and she ran out of the room and wiped her face with hydrogen peroxide.

Robert Bowman, a sheriff’s officer, said that as he restrained O’Banion after he lunged for the nurse, blood ran from O’Banion’s nose, and he spat it at officers, spraying blood on Bowman’s shirt and shoes.

″He told us he would bite us and give us AIDS,″ Bowman testified. ″He was spitting at all of us. The blood ran down from his nose. He would suck it in and spit it all over us.″

Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. said tests indicate the three officers and the nurse don’t have AIDS.

″The evidence will show ... that what has happened is a reaction by the officers to the fear that they feel,″ O’Banion’s lawyer, Catherine Adams, said in her opening statement.

O’Banion, who says he is homosexual, could be sentenced from 15 to 100 years in prison if convicted on all counts. He also was charged with disorderly conduct while intoxicated, assault and resisting arrest.

Outside the court building, about 40 activists accused authorities of harassing O’Banion and other homosexuals. Leis, who pushed for prosecution of of the Contemporary Arts Center for displaying homo-erotic photographs by the late Robert Mapplethorpe, denied the charge.

Judge Gilbert Bettman is hearing the case because O’Banion waived his right to a jury. The trial was expected to take two days.

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