Shooting death was accident, lawyer says



Police reports indicate there was some fooling around with a gun.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The shooting death of a 15-year-old boy at the hands of his older cousin was a tragic mistake, not murder, a defense lawyer says.
"My understanding from the family is that they're treating it as an accident," Boardman attorney Robert J. Rohrbaugh II said Friday. "They don't hold any animosity. It's a very tightknit family. They're definitely grieving but not holding it as a willful and malicious act."
Rohrbaugh represents Raymond Sykes, 17, of Cameron Street, who is charged with murder in the shooting death of his cousin, Billy Mayes. The lawyer said police reports indicate there was some sort of fooling around with a gun at 2307 Ohio Ave., Billy's mother's house.
Billy was found dead around 1:30 p.m. this past Monday. No signs of forced entry at the Ohio Avenue house were found. He was last known to be alive before the start of the Super Bowl on Sunday, which began around 6:20 p.m.
Detective Sgt. Rick Alli said police initially believed the boy was beaten about the head and shot in the chest but later learned that the head injury resulted from a fall.
Probable cause hearing
Rohrbaugh said a probable cause hearing will be held Monday in juvenile court. He said prosecutors filed a motion to have Judge Theresa Dellick relinquish jurisdiction and have Sykes' case transferred to common pleas court, where he would be tried as an adult.
A second defendant, Jeff Martin, 16, of East Philadelphia Avenue, is charged with tampering with evidence. Both were arrested Tuesday and taken to the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center.
"It's a complete tragedy. My client's mental state is that of a grieving kid," Rohrbaugh said. "Raymond turned himself in to police."
Rohrbaugh said there hasn't been much evidence turned over to him yet, and his office is doing some investigating into what happened. He's hoping that the investigation will show the appropriate charge is not murder.
"We're looking at it as a mistake," Rohrbaugh said. "Those two [boys] were inseparable friends."
Billy was a student at Choffin Career Center.
meade@vindy.com

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