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YOUNGSTOWN 3 indicted in slaying of robbery accomplice

By Bob Jackson

Sunday, August 3, 2003

A struggle ensued after one of the robbers put his gun down.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Three men accused of accidentally killing an accomplice during a robbery were indicted Thursday by a Mahoning County grand jury.
Latrell Jackson, 21, of Hilton Avenue; Terry D. Rozier, 28, of Woodford Avenue; and Odis Simmons, 19, of Hudson Avenue, are each charged with one count of murder and two counts of kidnapping and aggravated robbery.
The murder victim, 17-year-old William C. Lee of East Dewey Avenue, was in on a plan with the other three to rob an Aurora Drive couple Sunday afternoon, according to assistant prosecutor Jay Macejko.
Macejko said the four lured the Aurora Drive couple to a home on Woodford under the pretense of selling them some car rims. The man went inside while his wife waited in the car.
Once inside, the man was tied up, taken to the basement, burned with an iron and robbed of some $400. When the robbers realized that the man's wife was outside, they brought her in, tied her up and took her jewelry, Macejko said.
Macejko said the group threatened to kill the woman if her husband did not give them more money. Lee, Simmons and Jackson put the man in his own car and rode with him, supposedly to get more money. Rozier stayed behind to guard the victim's wife.
How death occurred
Jackson, who had been pointing a gun at the man, put the gun down to wipe sweat from his forehead, Macejko said. The victim grabbed the gun and a struggle for it ensued. That's when the gun fired and Lee was shot in the abdomen.
Macejko said that under Ohio law, causing the death of a person while in the act of committing another crime is considered murder. Because Lee was killed during a robbery, the others were charged with his murder even though he was their accomplice.
The robbery victim was not charged, despite the fact that he was apparently struggling for the gun when it went off.
"He was clearly the victim in this case and he was clearly within his rights to defend himself," Macejko said.
He said when Rozier learned that Lee had been shot, he ran from the house and left the female victim unattended. She was later rescued by police.