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YOUNGSTOWN Shooting case goes to jury



Published: Tue, September 25, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Tommy Williams' first trial ended in April with a hung jury.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Michael Booker and his friends had just finished a night of drinking and dancing at Pal Joey's bar on Midlothian Boulevard in the early morning hours of April 23, 2000.

They were headed back to Booker's Canfield apartment, where they planned to drink beer, play cards and relax, said David Fitzpatrick, who was a part of the group.

Instead, the night turned tragic when Booker was shot in the chest before he got to his car. He died in the parking lot.

For the second time in five months, a jury will try to decide whether it was Tommy Williams who fired the shot from a crowd and killed Booker, 26, outside the South Side bar.

Williams, 23, of Meadow Street, is on trial on a murder charge in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. Testimony wrapped up Monday afternoon. Jurors were to hear closing arguments from lawyers today, then begin deliberating.

Williams' first trial ended in April with a hung jury. After deliberating nearly 14 hours over three days, jurors notified Judge R. Scott Krichbaum that they could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Testimony: Testifying Monday, Fitzpatrick said the trouble started when Booker saw a Campbell man punch a woman in the parking lot outside the bar as they were leaving for Booker's place.

Fitzpatrick said Booker stepped in to defend the woman, whom he did not know. A fistfight ensued between Booker and the Campbell man, who was on the ground.

Fitzpatrick said he wrapped his arms around Booker's waist from behind and pulled him off the other man to break up the fight. He heard a gunshot and felt a hot pain on his arm as he pulled Booker away.

Witnesses said a man ran from the crowd that had gathered to watch the fight, put a 9mm handgun to Booker's ribs, pulled the trigger and ran away.

Fitzpatrick first thought he'd been shot, then realized it was Booker. He did not see who fired the gun, though other witnesses during the trial testified that it was Williams.

Williams denied being the shooter and said he did not have a gun.

bjackson@vindy.com




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