Jurors deliberate city man’s fate on murder charge
By John W. Goodwin Jr.
The fate of a city man charged with a 2011 murder on the South Side is now in the hands of a seven-man, five-woman jury.
Donovan Miller, 25, of Cambridge Avenue has been on trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court since last week in the murder of 22-year-old Quest Waggoner in his Inverness Avenue home. Miller is charged with aggravated murder with a firearm specification, tampering with evidence and trafficking in more than 2.2 pounds of marijuana.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys called their final witnesses Tuesday then offered closing arguments to jurors. The jury deliberated little more than an hour before ending the session with plans to resume today.
The county coroner ruled Waggoner died of a single gunshot wound to the head. He is believed to have been sleeping when the fatal shot was fired.
Waggoner is believed to have been dead several hours before his mother found him on a living-room couch with the home’s doors unlocked.
Police said they also found a small marijuana-growing operation and some packaged marijuana at the house.
Martin Desmond, an assistant county prosecutor, reminded jurors Miller knew key facts about the case not released to the public, such as the type of gun used in the crime, position of the victim’s body and the range from which the fatal shot had been fired. He also took time to dispel defense claims the shooting may have been in self-defense or committed by someone else.
“He is a cold-blooded killer who continues to lie and lie and lie,” Desmond said. “Each time the defendant gets caught in a lie, he changes his story and changes and changes it again.”
Desmond told jurors to use common sense in finding Miller guilty.
Atty. Gus Theofilos, representing Miller, took issue with some of the evidence presented in the case. He said his client was railroaded into making a confession to a crime he did not commit.
“We are faced with an overriding question, and that question is, ‘Is that confession you saw on video credible?’” Theofilos asked jurors during his summation. “It’s so much easier for a detective to get a kid like Donovan and work him into a confession rather than work all these other leads and put all that work in.”