By Peter H. Milliken
The mother of slain Youngstown State University student Jamail Johnson said she would prefer that all six suspects in the shootings at a house party on Indiana Avenue be held without bond.
The Feb. 6 shootings killed Johnson and wounded 11 others.
“I don’t think any of them deserve to have anything. My son is dead and gone. They all deserve to be in jail,” said Shirlene Hill of Liberty.
Hill made her remarks after Judge Elizabeth Kobly set $1 million as the bond for Mark Jones, 20, of Cambridge Avenue, at his initial court appearance by video Tuesday.
Jones, who was arrested and jailed Monday, is charged with aggravated murder by way of complicity in the death of Johnson, 25, who was killed in the 3:30 a.m. gunfire.
“In order to hold somebody without bond, you have to go into a little bit greater detail about the elements of the offense. We felt that the $1 million bond would be sufficient to hold Mark Jones. We are expecting a direct presentment to the grand jury this Thursday,” by the Mahoning County prosecutor’s office, said city Prosecutor Jay Macejko after a closed-door meeting with Johnson’s family.
Complicity means “he was directly involved in the commission of the offense,” and would be subject to the same penalty range as the principal offender, Macejko said, declining to give details of what he believes Jones did.
Although Jones now faces no other charges, “He is complicit to all of the events. In other words, he helped set these events into motion by his criminal conduct.”
“While we only charged him with one criminal offense, there’s a very good chance that he could be indicted for not only an aggravated murder or murder charge, but also all of the felonious assaults, shooting into a habitation and the attendant firearm specifications,” Macejko added.
“I’m about as positive as I could be that we have everybody at this point,” Macejko said when asked if he expects anyone else will be charged.
In attendance were about 25 spectators, consisting of members of both the Jones and Johnson families, with three city police officers and two security guards, all in uniform, in the courtroom.
Jones said he was a student, had no income and couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer, and Judge Kobly said one would be appointed for him.
“We would ask for a $1 million bond. Mr. Jones’ crime speaks for itself,” said Assistant City Prosecutor Basil Ally.
“That’s not unreasonable at all,” Judge Kobly replied.
Jones is a brother of Columbus Jones Jr., 22, of the same Cambridge Avenue address, who was charged initially in municipal court with aggravated murder in the same incident, but who was indicted by the Mahoning County grand jury on a lesser charge of murder.
The grand jury also indicted Columbus Jones on a charge of firing a gun at or into a habitation and 11 counts of felonious assault.
Macejko explained why he charged Mark Jones with aggravated murder after the grand jury declined to indict Columbus Jones on that higher charge.
“I have independent charging authority. I called it like I see it, and, assuming there’s a fair presentment to the grand jury, I have to respect the decision they make,” Macejko said.
However, Macejko acknowledged he expects the grand jury to indict on the lesser charge of murder by way of complicity.
The others charged in the case are Demetrius Wright, 20, of West Avondale Avenue, and Jamelle Jackson, 18, of West Boston Avenue, who the grand jury indicted last week on charges of carrying concealed weapons, tampering with evidence and obstructing justice.
The grand jury last week also indicted Brandon Carter, 22, of East Ravenwood Avenue, on a felony charge of obstruction of justice.
Braylon Rogers, 19, of East Lucius Avenue, initially was charged with aggravated murder and 11 counts of felonious assault, but those charges against him were dismissed when he pleaded guilty Feb. 14 to a felony charge of illegal possession of a firearm. He will be sentenced at a later date.
Rogers posted $500 bond and was released from county jail last week. He has promised prosecutors he’ll testify against the other defendants.