Court upholds convictions of 2 in homicides

By Peter H. Milliken

YOUNGSTOWN — Convictions of two homicide defendants that occurred before Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge R. Scott Krichbaum were unanimously upheld by the 7th District Court of Appeals.

The appeals court Wednesday upheld the conviction of James A. Hall, 31, of Victoria Street, in the Oct. 14, 2006, shooting death of Jeffrey A. Queen, 35, of Austintown.

Judge Krichbaum had sentenced Hall to life in prison without parole after a jury convicted Hall of the murder of Queen, whose body was found in the woods off Riblett Road in Austintown about eight hours after the shooting.

Queen was a confidential informant who made undercover drug buys from Hall for police and was to testify against Hall in a federal drug case.

Although the appellate court said the prosecution’s murder case against Hall was primarily circumstantial, it concluded that “Hall’s conviction was based upon sufficient evidence.”

In the federal case, Hall pleaded guilty to four counts of trafficking in crack cocaine and one count of possessing that drug with intent to distribute it. In that case, U.S. District Judge Christopher A. Boyko imposed a 40-year prison sentence on Hall to be served consecutively to the life sentence from Judge Krichbaum.

Queen wasn’t the first person Hall killed, however.

Hall was sentenced to five to 25 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and felonious assault in a May 1995 shooting that killed Arthur Tarver and critically wounded Larry J. Hargrave.

Tarver died of bullet wounds to his neck and chest. Hargrave survived 13 gunshot wounds. Hall and both victims were then 17.

In another Wednesday decision, the appellate court upheld the conviction of Edward Taylor II in the Nov. 18, 2007, shooting death of James E. Dow.

The court also allowed Taylor’s appellate lawyer to withdraw from the case after that lawyer, J. Dean Carro of the University of Akron School of Law, concluded there were no valid grounds for appeal.

Judge Krichbaum sentenced Taylor to 22 years in prison after Taylor pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, robbery, kidnapping and felonious assault with a firearm specification.

Dow, 28, of South Lakeview Avenue, was found dead in the basement of a Thornton Avenue house on the city’s North Side, his feet bound with tape.

“The record does not reveal any evidence that appellant’s guilty plea was not made knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily,” the appeals court ruled. “Appellant’s counsel is correct that this appeal is wholly frivolous.”

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