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Suspect to face lesser charge in killing near YSU

Published: Thu, February 17, 2011 @ 12:08 a.m.


Columbus Jones, Jr.


Brandon Carter


Braylon Rogers


Demetrius Wright


Jamelle Jackson

By John W. Goodwin Jr.



A Youngstown man had a more serious charge against him dismissed in the fatal shooting of a Youngstown State University student 11 days ago.

A Mahoning County grand jury met Wednesday and indicted Columbus Jones, 22, of Cambridge Avenue, on a murder charge in the shootings at a house near the YSU campus. The murder charge carries a potential of 15 years to life in prison.

The grand jury also handed up an indictment against Brandon Carter, 22, of East Ravenwood Avenue, on a felony charge of obstruction of justice in the shootings. He could face a potential one to five years in prison.

Jones initially had been charged with aggravated murder and 11 counts of aggravated assault after the Feb. 6 shootings that left 25-year-old Jamail Johnson dead and 11 people wounded. Johnson lived in the Indiana Avenue home frequented by members of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, of which Johnson was a member.

The grand jury chose not to indict Jones on the aggravated-murder charge. Grand jurors instead handed up indictments against Jones on a murder charge and the alternative count of causing the death of another in the commission of a felonious assault.

Jones also was indicted on 11 counts of felonious assault and firing a gun into a habitation, all with firearm specifications.

County Prosecutor Paul Gains explained that prosecutors could not present evidence to the grand jury that Jones committed the murder during the act of rape, arson, robbery, burglary or escape — elements of aggravated murder — because none of those apply to the case.

He said prosecutors were then left to present evidence that Jones committed murder “with prior calculation and design,” but the grand jury rejected that argument and indicted on the lesser charge of murder.

“The grand jury was limited to reviewing the aggravated murder under the prior calculation section of the statute because that is the only section that applies to this case,” the prosecutor said.

The aggravated-murder charge would carry a potential death sentence or possible life in prison.

Gains said large amounts of publicity in the case against Jones has raised public speculation and high expectations.

He would not get into the particulars of the case but did say that evidence gathered by police differs from widespread accounts of what took place just before the shootings, and police evidence is what prosecutors and the grand jury must work with.

“We are stuck with the facts as they are,” he said.

Gains said it is important the public understand the cases against Jones, Carter and three other men charged in the shootings are solid.

“This case is absolutely not unraveling. I feel confident that no one will escape justice in this case. This is a good, viable case,” he said.

Braylon Rogers, 19, of East Lucius Avenue, also initially was charged with aggravated murder and 11 counts of felonious assault. The aggravated-murder and felonious-assault charges against him were dismissed in light of his guilty plea to a felony charge of illegal possession of a firearm Monday. He will be sentenced for that crime at a later date.

Rogers posted $500 bond and was released from the county jail Wednesday. He has promised prosecutors to testify against the others.

Demetrius Wright, 20, of West Avondale Avenue, and Jamelle Jackson, 18, of West Boston Avenue, also charged in the shootings, are scheduled for preliminary hearings Friday. Those hearings could also be negated by a direct presentment to the grand jury.

Wright is charged with tampering with evidence. Jackson is charged with carrying a concealed weapon.


1MAVERICK790(1 comment)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Only in Youngstown can u assist with almost killing 13 people actually killing one, and u get a charge of C.C.W. and or weapons under disability Lol yeah id say that was a disability buddy. Did he not realize his gun didn't have the stick with the flag that says "BANG" what a joke! Maybe the city prosecutor and county prosecutor should stop their personal issues and focus on the killers at hand, at least for the vicims family!

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2seminole(476 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Another example of Gain's and his qualified office of prosecutors reducing charges. Watch this debacle unfold, these bangers will be down to probation for 6 months when it's all said and done...Gain's and his office of clowns suck!

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3One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Maverick this has nothing to do with the city prosecutor.

In fact, the city prosecutor is pissed at Gains specifically because of this sort of "lets keep our conviction rate high" sort of justice. He was angry at the fact that all Gains' lawyers (including himself, I'd imagine) got raises after years of this kind of crap.

Far as my vote is concerned, Paul Gains' run as prosecutor is over.

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4fcb(429 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

This is Youngstown! And they wonder why there is so much crime on the streets. Three months and this guy will be charged with some thing else. I don't live in Mahoning county (thank God) but if I did I would make sure that Paul Gains heard my opinion on this and try to get him out of office. Justice system my A--.

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5mrblue(1170 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

"This case is absolutely not unraveling." Let's hope not. What's next Gaines?

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6Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Some justice for Jamail Johnson. These animals commit murder and will get a slap on the wrist. It's boggles the mind.

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7Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

"Rogers posted $500 bond and was released from the county jail Wednesday. He has promised prosecutors to testify against the others."

Braylon Rogers got an excellent deal !

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8LowerCaseG(11 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago


The county prosecutor has nothing to do with the grand jury indictments. The evidence is collected, presented to the grand jury, and they then weigh the evidence and decide if there is a case for the prosecutor to take over. If there is not enough evidence, there is nothing you can do. Hate Gains if you want, but try to come up with VALID reasons instead of the typical "he isn't trying hard enough" routine. If there were more evidence here, there would be a more serious indictment. That may not seem right, but it's the law.

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9One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago


Please tell me (and I'm not being cynical - I just never understood this part of the system) who decides what to charge someone with.

As I understand it - the prosecutor brings the original charge(s) and the Grand Jury says either "yes" there is enough evidence to have a trial or "no" there isn't. The grand Jury doesn't say "no there isn't enough evidence - charge him with this instead".

If I am correct then it is still on Paul Gains that lesser charges were brought in the first place. Paul Gains got elected because he wasn't mob owned (and for that I commend him), but as far as I have seen, he is soft as a grape when it comes to meeting out any kind of justice - especially after listening to this mess.

But I'm serious - if I'm wrong, please tell me how it does work, because I'm really loosing faith in our legal system fast - I would much rather be wrong.

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