The trial was put on hold for nearly two months because witnesses didn't show up.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A jury's decision late Tuesday afternoon in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court sent two men home from jail.
Frederick Easterly, 19, of Gypsy Lane was found innocent of murder in the Oct. 1, 2000, shooting death of 19-year-old Bert King of Lora Avenue on the city's North Side.
Easterly was being held in the county jail during the trial, but Judge R. Scott Krichbaum ordered his release after the verdict.
Charles Scott, a witness in the trial, was also being held in the lockup and was released once the trial ended.
Witnesses: Scott, 19, of Guadalupe Avenue, was among three eyewitnesses who were subpoenaed by prosecutors and who did not show up when the trial began in July. The trial was postponed for seven weeks while authorities looked for them.
Only Scott was found, and he was kept in the jail to ensure both his safety and his appearance in court. He was paid $25 a day by the state for each day he was held. Ohio law requires such payment for material witnesses who are held against their will.
Defense lawyer J. Gerald Ingram expressed relief that the trial is finally over and that his client was cleared. He credited Assistant Prosecutor Patrick Pochiro for making the best of a tough situation without witnesses.
"Under the circumstances, he truly fought like a tiger," Ingram said. He declined to let Easterly be interviewed after the verdict.
Pochiro said he knew the case would be difficult to win without eyewitnesses.
"I did all I could do," he said as he left the courtroom. "I took a shot and put it in front of a jury."
The one-man, 11-woman jury deliberated about five hours before returning with the verdict.
Testimony: The trial resumed Monday with Scott on the witness stand.
Scott said he saw Easterly drive by the Elm Street home where he, King and two other men were sitting. As he drove past, Easterly held a gun in his right hand and shot through the passenger-side window while driving with his left hand, Scott said.
He said Easterly was alone in the car.
Scott said none of the men on the porch had a gun at the time.
Two young girls who live in an upstairs apartment at the Elm Street home, however, said they saw one of the other three men on the porch pick up a gun from the ground after King was shot and take it to a house next door.
The girls also said they saw the man in the car stop and hold the gun in both hands while firing.
Easterly's girlfriend, Tiffany Ellis, testified Monday that Easterly was with her at her house the day of the shooting, so he could not have been the one who shot King.