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Killings came as a surprise, witness says



Published: Fri, October 27, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



McKinney killed one woman because she didn't give him money, a witness said.

By ED RUNYAN

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A city woman said she agreed to help her friend Jermaine McKinney on the night two women were killed in a Newton Township home by giving him a car ride from the home.

But she was caught by surprise when McKinney emerged from the house covered in blood, and he told her he had killed two people, she said.

Jazzmine McIver, 22, testified Thursday in McKinney's double murder trial in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court that she waited in her car for about an hour in Wanda Rollyson's driveway on Dec. 21, 2005, for McKinney and Keyatta Riley Hines, 21, also of Warren, to come out.

She and Riley Hines had gone there to pick up McKinney, 26, of Youngstown, who had told the women earlier that day he was going to Rollyson's house with Rollyson's daughter, Rebecca Cliburn, 43, also of Warren, to get money, McIver said.

McIver testified that when McKinney came out of the house, "I said, 'Did you get the money?' He said 'No.' He said, 'I killed them.' And I'm like 'You did what?' He was like 'I killed them.' His voice was like he was scared."

She continued: "He said, 'It was the first time. I took somebody's grandmother or somebody's mother away from them,' and I didn't ask no questions."

If McKinney is convicted of killing Rollyson and Cliburn, he could face the death penalty.

Drove around Youngstown

McIver said she spent the next several hours traveling around Youngstown with the two, eventually picking up a third woman named Amy Corll. They failed in an attempt to use Corll's identification and a debit card stolen from Rollyson to get 2,500 from Western Union, a company that facilitates money transfers, McIver said.

Along the way, McIver described stopping at a bridge along McKelvey Lake on Youngstown's East Side so McKinney could try to dispose of boots and a crowbar in the iced-over water.

They stopped at an abandoned house so McKinney could burn remaining evidence in a house fire; stopped at a relative's house to get McKinney a change of clothes; stopped at a street corner to dispose of Wanda Rollyson's partly burned driver's license; went to a carwash so McKinney could vacuum the back seat area of her car; and eventually took McKinney to his father's house.

Gives reason for killings

All the while, McIver said she wondered why McKinney killed the women, she said, and she finally asked him.

While washing blood off his hands at his father's house, McKinney told her, "She [Cliburn] didn't give me the money, so I killed her," McIver said, adding that McKinney told her he used wires to tie her up, then beat and strangled her.

McIver continued that McKinney told her he pushed Rollyson, 70, down the stairs and she hit her head.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Larry Smith of Akron asked McIver whether she had told investigators a wide range of false stories during the course of the investigation.

McIver admitted that she had, saying she was afraid to tell the truth and was "playing around," but she said to Smith that she has now told authorities the complete truth.

Smith repeatedly asked McIver whether investigators had threatened to take her two children away from her if she failed to tell them what they wanted to know, an accusation McIver denied.

Later, McIver did acknowledge that she would spend some time in prison if she accepted a prosecutor's plea agreement and testify against McKinney.

Knew victim, defendant

McIver testified that she had known Cliburn for more than two years. She said Cliburn had a serious drug problem and she had tried to help her kick the drug habit. She also tried to help Cliburn by driving her to court hearings, she said.

McIver said she had known McKinney an even longer time and that he frequently came to stay at her apartment.

On Dec. 29, one day before McIver was arrested, McKinney showed up in her neighborhood, McIver said. He was certain police were going to come looking for him and McKinney soon told McIver he planned to let police kill him.

"I'm going to have a standoff," McIver said McKinney told her. "I want to have them kill me."

Police investigation

Earlier Thursday, Sgt. Peter Pizzulo of the Trumbull County Sheriff's Department completed his testimony, testifying to a dramatic turn in the case on Dec. 27, when they first learned of Amy Corll of Hubbard and her possible involvement in the two killings.

Pizzulo testified that during the first five days of investigation, authorities were looking into leads provided by Melissa Barry of Austintown, Cliburn's daughter, that the killings might have been done by Barry's brother, Nathan Vargo, or a drug dealer who had left Cliburn a threatening phone message.

But on Dec. 27, investigators received a phone call from someone working at a Liberty Township restaurant alerting them to Corll's possible involvement.

The next day investigators also received Corll's name from Western Union, saying Corll's identification was used the night of the deaths in an attempt to secure cash from Rollyson's debit card.

In the days that followed, investigators interviewed Corll, Riley Hines and McIver. The women later accepted plea bargains in exchange for their testimony.

Cross-examination

On cross-examination, defense attorney Donald Malarcik of Akron played a recording of a telephone call in which a man described as a drug dealer threatened to kill Rollyson, Cliburn and one of Cliburn's two sons.

Malarcik asked Pizzulo to describe the amount of work investigators put into tracking down information on the drug dealer.

Pizzulo said most of that work was done by other investigators working the case and he wasn't sure what information was gathered.

He said investigators dropped that line of investigation when they learned the drug dealer had been in Trumbull County jail at the time of the killings and because Corll and the other women came to their attention a couple of days after authorities learned of the threatening phone call.

runyan@vindy.com




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