YOUNGSTOWN Deal opens door for rape testimony
The 22-year-old West Delason Avenue man will testify against his co-defendants.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Jamar Callier is facing seven years in prison for telling the truth.
That's how long prosecutors are recommending he serve in prison for his role in the rape and robbery of a young Boardman woman last year. They acknowledged that it's a huge reduction but said it's an essential tactical move.
Callier, 22, of West Delason Avenue, was indicted a year ago by a county grand jury on two counts each of rape and aggravated robbery and single counts of kidnapping and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. Each count had a gun specification attached.
He would have faced more than 60 years in prison if convicted.
But as part of a plea agreement with the prosecutor's office, the kidnapping charge was reduced to abduction, and an aggravated robbery charge was reduced to theft. The other charges were dismissed.
Callier pleaded guilty to the reduced charges and one gun specification.
The move raised the eyebrows of Judge R. Scott Krichbaum.
"I don't like this," he said, noting that he's heard the facts of the case in pretrial hearings. "Why in the world would you consider this?"
Assistant Prosecutor Deena Calabrese said authorities do not believe Callier participated in the rape, though they believe he was present when it happened.
The agreement was made to secure his truthful testimony against the other suspects when they go to trial next month. That testimony is critical is gaining a conviction of the others, Calabrese said.
Callier's ability to identify one of the other suspects is essential to the state's case, Calabrese said, though she declined to say which suspect.
She also said the victim consented to the deal and confirmed Callier's story that he was not among her attackers.
Investigators say the woman, who was 21 at the time, was grabbed from a Detroit Avenue driveway by two men who were out cruising around and robbing people. She was taken to a secluded location on the city's South Side and gang-raped at gunpoint.
Defense attorney John B. Juhasz said Callier was not in on the kidnapping. He and another suspect, Andre Bundy, were in another car when they were flagged down by two other suspects, who had already kidnapped the woman, and told Callier and Bundy to follow them.
Calabrese said when one of the other suspects began talking about killing the victim after she'd been raped, it was Callier who interceded and kept that from happening.
"He put her in her car, slammed the doors shut and said, 'Get out of here. Nobody's going to hurt you tonight,'" Calabrese said.
The theft charge came about because Callier picked up the victim's watch off the ground at the scene, Juhasz said. When police found it in one of his pockets afterward, he admitted it was hers.
"I would go beyond saying that Mr. Callier's testimony is merely desirable and say that's it absolutely essential" in the prosecution's case against the other suspects, Juhasz said.
After hearing from both sides, Judge Krichbaum approved the deal and accepted the plea. He cautioned Callier that if he fails to keep his end of the bargain, the deal is off and he'll face the original charges.
Chaz Bunch, 17, of Willis Avenue, faces multiple counts of rape, complicity to rape, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, aggravated menacing and conspiracy to aggravated robbery.
Brandon Moore, 16, of Applecrest Court, faces charges of rape, kidnapping and three counts of aggravated robbery. He and Bunch are being tried as adults.
Bundy, 19, of West Hylda Avenue, is accused of being involved in the robberies but not the rape.