YOUNGSTOWN Murder accomplice sentenced to 6 years
The man will serve time for driving the getaway car and providing a gun.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Jamar Prieto deserved to spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole for his role in the 1998 killing of LaShawnda Aziz, a judge said.
But because he cooperated with authorities and made a deal with prosecutors, Prieto will spend only six years behind bars.
"This doesn't sit well with me," Judge R. Scott Krichbaum said moments before imposing the sentence. "There is no punishment I could impose that would be too great."
Pleaded guilty: Prieto, 21, of Lansdowne Boulevard, pleaded guilty in June to four counts of complicity to attempted aggravated murder and one count of complicity to aggravated robbery.
The charges were reduced as part of a plea agreement with the prosecutor's office. Under the original charges, he could have been sentenced to life without parole.
Prieto admitted that he supplied one of the guns that was used when Aziz and her 4-year-old son, DeShun Moreland, were killed during a robbery at their Lansdowne Boulevard home. Aziz was pregnant and her death caused the fetus to die. Her daughter, Brea Aziz, who was 3 at the time, was shot in the head but survived.
Anthony Anderson and Kevin Calwise both have been convicted for the killings and robbery and are serving life terms without parole.
What he did: Besides giving Anderson a gun, Prieto told authorities that he drove Anderson and Calwise to the scene, waited outside for them and drove them away.
Under Ohio law, that makes Prieto as responsible as the actual shooters, Judge Krichbaum said.
"As far as I'm concerned, your role in this thing would merit the sentence of life in prison without parole," the judge said. Instead, he followed the prosecutor's recommendation of six years for each count and allowing the terms to be served simultaneously.
Under the plea deal, Prieto becomes eligible for shock probation after serving six months, though he is not guaranteed of being released early. That determination will be up to Judge Krichbaum.
Prieto gets credit for 32 months he served in the county jail awaiting disposition of the case.
Reason for deal: Assistant Prosecutor Jay Macejko said his office was forced to make the deal with Prieto in exchange for his testimony against Anderson and Calwise, which was critical in securing their convictions.
"Yes, he was integral part of this crime, but he was also an integral part of solving this crime," Macejko said. "We had to make this deal."
Defense attorney Mark Lavelle said Prieto has grown from a "punk and a street hood" into a man willing to take responsibility for what he did.
"He didn't come forward and testify to save his own skin. He came forward because he wanted to do the right thing," Lavelle said.