Woman describes exchanges that preceded death at Durham bar

Oceania De Luca-Westrate was standing at the bar waiting for her drink when Teddy Tivnan returned to his seat next to his friend.

Tivnan stood behind her and then eased into the spot he was previously sitting in beside his friend, according to a video of the June 5, 2019, interaction at a now closed bar on West Main Street near Brightleaf Square.

Tivnan, a Durham native who has been described in court testimony as outgoing and naturally loud, made De Luca-Westrate uncomfortable, she said.

“I don’t like someone coming up behind me and getting in my space,” she said.

De Luca-Westrate said Tivnan didn’t touch her, and she thought he was drunk after smelling his breath.

“I remember him talking to me … maybe saying hello, but I just, something felt off,” she testified. “I just kind of stared forward. I didn’t really respond, and he just kept kind of inching forward.”

After getting her drink, De Luca-Westrate went back outside to sit with her boyfriend and Daniel Mohar, whom she said hadn’t known for long.

As De Luca-Westrate spoke in a Durham courtroom last week, Mohar sat watching her testimony during the first week of his second-degree murder trial.

Daniel Mohar on March 24, 2022 during his second-degree murder trial. Mohar is charged with killing Teddy Tivnan after an encounter at a bar outside of downtown Durham on June 5, 2019. Virginia Bridges vbridges@newsobserver.com

Daniel Mohar murder trial

Mohar is charged with killing Tivnan after the June 2019 encounter in front of Social Brews and Games, the West Main Street bar that has since closed. The Living Room, a cocktail lounge, now operates in the space.

Mohar was initially charged with first-degree murder, but at the trial the prosecutors said they are pursuing a second-degree murder charge. Mohar has previously been convicted of three misdemeanors: drunk and disorderly conduct in 2006, assault with a deadly weapon in 2010 and trespassing in 2012.

For second-degree murder, prosecutors must prove that Mohar killed Tivnan with malice.

Mohar’s attorneys contend Mohar hit Tivnan in self defense before Tivnan fell and hit his head on the sidewalk. Tivnan, a then recently divorced 49-year-old father of three daughters, died at the hospital two days later.

The bar’s surveillance camera caught part of the encounter on video and De Luca-Westrate’s concerns about Tivnan making her feel uncomfortable has been mentioned in a search warrant.

De Luca-Westrate and other witnesses’ testimony filled in key details about the death and events that preceded it.

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Edward “Teddy” Tivnan died June 7, 2019 after an altercation at Durham outside Social Games and Brews in Durham. Daneil Mohar has been charged with murder in his death. Photo courtesy of Teddy Tivnan’s family

‘It was just taunting’

The surveillance video shows that after De Luca-Westrate left with a drink after the first interaction with Tivnan. She returned less then 10 minutes later to a different area of ​​the bar.

Tivnan made faces at her from across the bar while she waited for her drink, she said.

“Did you react in any way?” asked Assistant District Attorney Mary Jude Darrow.

“I am pretty sure I flipped him off,” De Luca-Westrate said.

De Luca-Westrate encountered Tivnan a third time, she said, after Tivnan and his friend walked outside to the front of the Social.

De Luca-Westrate said she first heard Tivnan laughing.

“It was just taunting. That was all. I don’t recall any words really being spoken,” she said. “It was just pointing and laughing. I don’t really know what else, but it irked me enough to stand up and start yelling at him.”

De Luca-Westrate said she just wanted him to get out of her face.

“Had he gotten in your face?” Darrow asked.

“Let me rephrase that. I just wanted him to get out of my space, out of my view,” she said. “I just didn’t want him around. It gave me a bad feeling, and I lost my temper.”

‘What a tramp’

The video shows De Luca-Westrate coming around the corner.

“Get the (expletive) out of here,” she says.

“Why are you doing this to me?” Tivnan asks.

“Because you are a (expletive) creep,” she says. “Go that way. Go.”

They exchange some more words.

“What a tramp,” Tivnan tells his friend as he walks away from the woman and the corner.

Three men then come around the corner, including Mohar who walks up to Tivnan and headbutts him.

Watch your (expletive) language. You don’t call a woman that,” Mohar says.

Tivnan falls outside the camera’s view after the headbutt.

Daniel Mohar sitting in Durham County court during jury selection for his second-degree murder trial on March 22, 2022.

Mohar punches Tivnan

Mohar can be heard yelling for Tivnan to leave.

Leighton Lopez, who was with Tivnan that night, told the jury that after the headbutt, Mohar hit Tivnan in the face.

Tivnan started walking back up a ramp in the front of the bar, and it threw him off balance, Lopez testedified.

“I believe that is when (Mohar) hit (Tivnan) and he fell backwards and hit his head,” Lopez testedified.

Brett Stonecipher, another witness, was riding his bike home when he saw part of the encounter between what appeared to be a more aggressive Mohar and a drunk Tivnan, Stonecipher testified.

Stonecipher pulled over and was evaluating how to safely intervene, he said.

“One of the gentleman threw a punch and the other one fell backwards and hit his head on the pavement,” he said.

“It was clear that the gentleman who was struck wasn’t responding quickly,” he later testedified, adding Tivnan didn’t put his hands up to protect himself.

Who called 911?

After Tivnan didn’t get up, someone called 911 but prosecutors don’t know who.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Wallace said at one time prosecutors thought it was Lopez, but then later thought it might be Stonecipher.

During a hearing with the jury out of the room, Wallace played the 911 call for Stonecipher.

What sounds like a man’s voice tells a dispatcher that a man is unconscious after being knocked out.

“Was he assaulted?” the dispatcher asks.

“I don’t know what happened but he is unconscious,” the person says. Ambulance. That is all that is needed.”

Previous indication that while an officer stopped by the bar that evening, police didn’t gather significant evidence until the next day after a bartender had cleaned up the area. The more serious investigation began after a Duke University Hospital official contacted the police department, according to testimony.

After hearing the 911 call, Wallace asked Stonecipher whether it was his voice on the 911 call.

“That is not my voice,” he said.

Testimony is scheduled to continue Monday.

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