YOUNGSTOWN Hunter murder charge reduced

The prosecutor said the charge was reduced because ofinsufficient evidence.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Mahoning County Prosecutor's Office will recommend that Jeron J. Hunter, 23, of Overland Avenue spend at least seven years in prison for his role in the beating, kidnapping and killing of a 16-year-old city boy nearly two years ago.
Hunter pleaded guilty Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to one count each of felonious assault and kidnapping. Judge Jack Durkin ordered a background check before sentencing. Hunter was the last of four men charged in the death to have his day in court.
The felonious assault charge was reduced from the original charge of aggravated murder as part of a plea agreement. Terry Grenga, an assistant county prosecutor, said she will recommend that Hunter receive seven years on each count, to run concurrently.
The case: The charge was reduced because authorities have no evidence to prove Hunter participated in the shooting of John Allen of East Earle Avenue, Grenga said.
The only proof against Hunter is statements made by three co-defendants, but Grenga said Ohio law does not allow a person to be tried based solely on such statements and requires independent, corroborating evidence.
Defense lawyer James Gentile said the plea deal is appropriate because, although Hunter admits helping to beat, bind and kidnap Allen, "he has always maintained that he had nothing to do with this young man's death."
Hunter said he participated only because one of the others ordered him at gunpoint to do so, something Judge Durkin said was confirmed in a written statement from Hunter's cousin, who lives in the apartment where Allen was beaten.
What happened: Authorities say Allen went to a Market Street apartment in September 1999, allegedly to rob a man who lived there. The man, Kevin L. Green, got wind of the plan and was waiting for Allen when he arrived.
The two argued, then Green punched Allen and knocked him to the floor. Hunter and two other men, Lamar Logan and William L. Robinson III, were also there and reportedly joined in the beating.
Prosecutors said Allen was tied up with a telephone cord, gagged with socks and doused with chlorine bleach. He was put into the trunk of a car and driven to Lincoln Park, where he was shot six times at close range in the back of the head.
Green, 29, was suspected of being the triggerman. A common pleas court jury convicted him in February of kidnapping and complicity to aggravated murder, and he was sentenced to life in prison.
Robinson, 27, of West Earle Avenue, pleaded guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter and is awaiting sentencing.
Logan, 37, of Ayers Street, also pleaded guilty, to reduced charges, but has since asked to withdraw the plea. His request is pending before Judge Durkin.

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