MURDER TRIAL Prosecutors keep tabs on key witness
Shawn Patton promised to show up when the trial starts next week.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- As a running back for the Youngstown State University football team, Shawn Patton was a key player in the Penguins' winning the 1994 national championship.
As a witness in a 9-year old murder case, he's a key player for the Mahoning County prosecutor's office.
That's why prosecutors hauled him into common pleas court Thursday to ensure that he'll be there when the trial starts next week.
"He's a material witness and he's important to our case," said Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Franken.
Murder trial: Patton, 29, of East Midlothian Boulevard, is expected to testify in the trial of 28-year-old Talawrence Wright, scheduled to begin Wednesday before Judge Jack Durkin.
He was the starting tailback on YSU's 1994 national championship team, leading the team in rushing and scoring that year.
Authorities say Wright, who was 19 at the time, killed 19-year-old Sanika Trevathan of Whitman Lane in February 1992. Trevathan was shot 18 times at close range in the living room of an Oak Lane house.
The case was put on hold for years because authorities were unable to locate Wright. He was eventually found in Detroit, brought back to the area and indicted by a county grand jury in January 2000 on a murder charge.
The trial was to begin in November but had to be postponed because Patton did not answer a subpoena to testify, Franken said.
Picked up on warrant: After several unsuccessful attempts to locate him, Franken obtained a warrant July 24 to have Patton picked up and held as a material witness for the trial. Authorities picked him up on the warrant Wednesday.
Assistant Prosecutor Terry Grenga said Patton was living and working out of town, which is why he could not be found.
Franken considered asking Judge Durkin to order that Patton be held without bond in the county jail to ensure his appearance in court but backed off after Patton promised to be there.
Patton was ordered to check in with prosecutors by telephone every day until the trial starts.
Judge Durkin said if Patton fails to show up for the trial, he could be charged with obstructing justice and face up to five years in prison.