YOUNGSTOWN Murder trial is in jury's hands



The defendant admits being present at the murder but insists he is innocent.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Prosecutors say Freddie Lewis did everything but pull the trigger in the killing of Youngstown State University student Justin Treasic.
But defense attorney Ronald Yarwood says authorities want to hang a murder rap on Lewis out of vengeance.
A 10-man, two-woman jury now must decide who to believe.
Lewis, 20, of Tacoma Avenue, has been on trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, charged with aggravated murder and aggravated robbery.
Testimony was presented Friday and Monday, and jurors heard closing arguments by lawyers Tuesday afternoon. Judge Maureen A. Cronin sent them home for the evening, and they were to resume deliberating today.
Closing arguments
Kelly Johns, assistant prosecutor, told jurors in her closing argument that Lewis arranged a meeting with Treasic in February 2002, supposedly to buy marijuana from him. She said Lewis actually intended to rob Treasic but "didn't have the stomach to do it himself."
That's why Lewis brought along his cousin, William Vaughn, who police believe shot Treasic in the head in an open field on the city's North Side. Treasic, 21, of Logan Avenue, died the next day.
Vaughn, 22, of Berwick Avenue, faces the same charges as Lewis and is to go on trial after Lewis' trial.
Course of actions
Johns said Lewis called Treasic on his cellular telephone and arranged a meeting to buy marijuana from him, then picked up Treasic and drove him to the field at Ada Street and Poplar Avenue. Vaughn was riding in the back seat.
She said Lewis waited in the car while Vaughn and Treasic got out. Once outside the car, Vaughn pulled out a gun and shot Treasic as Treasic knelt and begged for his life, Johns said.
Vaughn then took marijuana out of Treasic's pockets and left with Lewis, and the two men smoked the stolen drugs together, Johns said.
She said even though it was Vaughn who pulled the trigger, Lewis is just as guilty because he aided and abetted in the plan.
Yarwood, though, said Lewis never intended to rob or kill Treasic and his only crime was being in the car when the killing took place.
"Mere presence alone is not a crime," Yarwood said.
He argued that Vaughn intimidated Lewis by pointing a gun at him and said prosecutors want the jurors to serve "as an instrument of vengeance" to atone for Treasic's death.
bjackson@vindy.com

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