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MAHONING COUNTY Judge: Keep woman in secure place



Published: Sat, February 15, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Negotiations for a proposed plea bargain broke down, so the case is going to trial.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A city woman has been moved out of the Mahoning County Jail, where she was being held to assure her appearance in court as a witness in her husband's killing.

But Judge James C. Evans of common pleas court ordered that Michelle Cannell still be kept in a secure facility until the trial of Arthur Barron concludes.

Barron, 29, of Carroll Street, is charged with murder in the November shooting death of 32-year-old John M. Cannell of Quentin Drive.

What records say

According to court records, Cannell's wife, Michelle, had traded her wedding band for $50 worth of crack cocaine and Cannell had gone to get it back. Officials say an argument ensued between John Cannell and another man, whom Cannell had recruited to help him retrieve the ring. Barron was driving past, saw the argument and stopped to see what was going on.

Authorities say words then were exchanged between Barron and John Cannell, after which Barron pulled a gun and shot Cannell once in the chest. Mrs. Cannell witnessed the shooting, said Jay Macejko, an assistant prosecutor.

When prosecutors were unable to locate Mrs. Cannell to testify for a court hearing in December, they had her picked up and held in the county jail as a material witness. Court documents say prosecutors believed Mrs. Cannell, 31, was "deliberately making herself unavailable."

She was to be kept in jail until after testifying against Barron.

"She's one of the key eyewitnesses," Macejko said. "She is the one who lays out the entire course of events."

Barron was scheduled for trial Wednesday in common pleas court, but the matter was postponed because Judge Evans has another case.

Macejko said he thought a plea agreement had been reached, in which Barron would have pleaded guilty to a reduced charge and gotten a shorter prison term in exchange, but Barron refused the deal.

"I'm very disappointed that the negotiations broke down," he said.

The trial is expected to begin immediately after the trial that's already going on in Judge Evans' courtroom. In the meantime, Mrs. Cannell will be kept in a secured halfway house to ensure her appearance as a witness.

bjackson@vindy.com




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