Fort Worth

Man, 79, testifies that he didn’t see punch to his face

A 79-year-old Arlington man testified Tuesday that neither he nor his wife saw the punch that cracked some of his teeth and bloodied his nose at a TCU spring football game last year.

“I remember being on my knee, leaning up against my chair and my wife was screaming,” James Woods said. “I stood up and then I knelt back down. A man came over and helped me up, and he asked [defendant Shea O’Neill], ‘Why did you hit that man?’

“And I remember O’Neill saying, ‘That man is not hurt, he’s faking.’ 

O’Neill, 43, is on trial this week on a charge of injury to the elderly, a first-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison.

He is accused of punching Woods on April 10, 2015, after the men had a heated exchange about the children with O’Neill who were playing on a railing at Amon G. Carter Stadium during a game.

Woods testified that he and his 71-year-old wife, Patsy, were sitting near a railing in the student section in an area for handicapped people.

Woods testified that three children were playing loudly in front of them, climbing on the railing and making it hard to see and hear the game. Attempts by Patsy Woods to get the children to move or quiet down were unsuccessful.

After about 30 minutes, Woods testified, his wife leaned back in her chair and said, “I give up.” That’s when he told one of the children to move in a voice loud enough to be heard over other voices, Woods said.

That sparked a heated argument with O’Neill, who said that if anyone was going to yell at his kids it would be him, Woods said.

Woods testified that he sat down as the argument intensified.

“I thought the best way for me to handle it was to try to diffuse the situation, and I broke off the exchange,” Woods said. “I think you could say we were two angry men.”

There were a few more words exchanged, he said.

“The next thing I recall was a very painful blow on my face and my whole face went numb,” Woods testified. “I recall being knocked to the concrete. I remained there for several minutes because I was stunned. I reached up and touched my nose and got a handful of blood.”

Woods and his wife both testified Tuesday that neither of them saw the blow that knocked him down.

In other testimony Tuesday, Kelly Ham, a TCU police investigator, said that O’Neill acknowledged hitting Woods but said he was protecting his children from the older couple’s harassment.

Ham told jurors that he believed O’Neill downplayed the incident, and said that he could not do much damage to Woods with the type of blow he described.

“I don’t know how to describe the motion,” Ham said, reading from a statement O’Neill gave investigators. “I would call it a bent elbow using the palm of my hand to his mouth. Obviously it was just a reflex. It was more of a ‘stop, leave us alone’ type of thing.”

O’Neill’s statement also said that Patsy Woods grabbed one of the children by his shirt and violently jerked him toward her. According to his statement, O’Neill was trying to get his children away from the elderly couple when he was surrounded by spectators.

Woods yelled at O’Neill and then started to act like he was hurt, the statement said.

“I’m still going to get you, you son of a bitch,” Woods said, according to O’Neill’s statement.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3