Girard man receives 13-year prison term for double shooting
'Get off the slow train,' or else, judge warns prosecutor's office.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A Girard man is going to prison for 13 years in the shooting deaths of two people last year.
The judge, however, ordered the prosecutor to have the man testify before a grand jury concerning an alleged accomplice in that double slaying by the end of this month -- or the prosecutor will face consequences.
Taurus L. Hearns, 32, of East Liberty Street, drew the sentence Wednesday from Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Hearns had pleaded guilty in February to aggravated robbery and two counts of involuntary manslaughter with a firearm specification in the April 7, 2006, deaths of Ronnie R. Summers and Sampson J. Williams III in Summers' apartment at 840 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Williams, 34, of Fairgreen and Clearmount avenues, was found dead on a couch, and Summers, 45, was shot in the chest and died later.
The judge adopted the plea agreement and the nonappealable sentence agreement between the prosecution and defense. Hearns will serve concurrent 10-year sentences on the robbery and manslaughter charges, plus three consecutive years for the gun specification. He'll be on parole for five years after he leaves prison.
Under the agreement, Hearns is to testify against an alleged accomplice, who is in custody in another state, and whose alleged participation in the double slaying is to come before the Mahoning County grand jury May 17, said Robert Bush, chief of the criminal division of the Mahoning County prosecutor's office. The prosecution believes the man, whom Bush declined to name, is the "primary aggressor" in the double killing, Bush said.
Hearns would have faced 43 years to life in prison had he been convicted of the original charges of aggravated robbery and two counts of murder. Hearns, who was sent to prison by Judge Krichbaum in 1996 for felonious assault and a gun crime, had been released on a year's parole March 27, 2006 -- just days before the double slaying.
"The local prosecutor is going to have to get off of whatever slow train he's on and get this thing done," Judge Krichbaum said, noting that he has postponed hearings in Hearns' case at least twice awaiting presentation of the case of the alleged accomplice to the grand jury.
"By the end of this month, the court hereby orders that, what needs to be done, that is, appearing before the grand jury and formal testimony taken from this man, will be completed, or there'll be action taken by the court against the prosecutor's office," the judge said in court without specifying what action might be taken.
Bush was substituting for Martin P. Desmond, assistant county prosecutor, who was assigned to the double homicide case in Judge Krichbaum's court, but was prosecuting another homicide case Wednesday in another courtroom.
Desmond, Bush and county Prosecutor Paul Gains declined to comment on the judge's remarks.
Judge Krichbaum warned Hearns that, if he doesn't fulfill his commitment to testify, he'll vacate Hearns' plea and sentence, and Hearns will face trial as originally charged.