YOUNGSTOWN Man gets 20 years to life for murder on East Side
Christopher Love's lawyer said he will appeal the verdict and sentence.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Christopher Love still says he's not the man who stomped a 44-year-old city woman to death on an East Side street three years ago.
But he's the one who's going to prison for it.
Judge Robert Lisotto of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court sentenced Love to 20 years to life in prison Tuesday.
It was a mandatory sentence for aggravated murder, for which Love was convicted by a jury Nov. 1.
Love's attorney, Paul Conn, said he will appeal the verdict and sentence.
Because an appeal is pending, Love, 26, made no comment before the sentence was imposed.
Olivia Hubbert, who lived in the Victory Annex housing complex, was repeatedly kicked and stomped in the head July 5, 1999. She died later that night, asphyxiated by crushed bones in her neck.
Police charged Love and Robert Blackshear with her murder. The men were tried by the same jury. Blackshear, 44, was acquitted while Love was convicted.
Love testified during the trial that he knocked Hubbert to the ground after she spit in his face, but that it was Blackshear who repeatedly kicked and stomped her in the head while she was on the ground.
Other witnesses testified that Love, not Blackshear, was the attacker.
Before Tuesday's sentencing, Conn argued that the evidence during the trial did not rise to the level of aggravated murder. At best, he said, Love should have been convicted of murder or involuntary manslaughter, which both carry lower sentences.
"I think the jury was confused," Conn said, noting that the brutality of the crime does not make it an aggravated offense. He said there was no proof that Love intended to kill Hubbert, which is required to prove aggravated murder.
He also argued that the men should have been tried separately instead of together and asked Judge Lisotto to either grant Love a new trial or to find him guilty of one of the lesser charges.
Robert Andrews, assistant prosecutor, said the issue of separate trials had been argued at least twice before, with Judge Lisotto deciding each time to try the men together.
"There is no new evidence that anything should have been done differently," Andrews said.
Judge Lisotto overruled Conn's motions for a new trial or reduced verdict and imposed the sentence for aggravated murder. He gave Love credit for 1,238 days he's been held in the county jail before and after the trial.
Victory Annex, a government-subsidized housing complex, is bounded by Stewart and Magnolia avenues.