Change of venue sought for 2 suspects
By John W. Goodwin Jr.
Two men facing charges in the murder of a Youngstown State University senior and wounding of 11 others in 2011 do not want their cases heard by Mahoning County residents.
Jamelle Jackson, 20, of West Boston Avenue, and Mark Jones, 25, of South Meridian Road, both appeared Monday before Judge John M. Durkin of common pleas court requesting a change of venue before their upcoming trials.
Judge Durkin has taken the request under advisement. He has not set a date when he will make a decision.
The two men believe they can’t get a fair trial in the county due to extensive press coverage and pretrial publicity.
Jackson and Jones are charged with the murder of Jamail Johnson and the wounding of 11 others Feb. 6, 2011.
Johnson and dozens of other young people were attending an off-campus party near Youngstown State University when a fight erupted involving Jackson, Jones and Jones’ brother, Columbus Jones, 23, and several other people.
The motion for change of venue comes on the heels of Columbus Jones’ conviction for murder, 11 counts of felonious assault, all with firearm specifications, and shooting into a habitation. He was sentenced to 92 years in prison after the jury verdict.
Jackson was not on trial with Columbus Jones, but his name was mentioned throughout the court proceedings for the now- convicted killer.
Braylon Rogers, 21, formerly of East Lucius Avenue, was a key prosecution witness in Columbus Jones’ trial before Judge Durkin. He, too, is charged with the shooting, but took a plea deal with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony.
Rogers testified he and his co-defendants went to the house party about 2:55 a.m. after having been at a Liberty nightclub earlier that evening.
Rogers said fist-fighting erupted after he quarreled with an intoxicated woman who leaned on him at the house party and after he called her a derogatory name.
The group was made to leave the party. While standing outside the house party, Columbus Jones asked for and received his gun from his brother, Mark Jones, Rogers told the jury.
Columbus Jones then said: “I’m going to air this out,” and began shooting toward the porch, Rogers testified. As soon as Columbus Jones stopped shooting, Jackson, who was standing outdoors nearby, also fired toward the house, Rogers said.
Prosecutors have said it is hard to determine who fired what gun and who fired the fatal shots, but they believe two guns were used in the shooting from at least two people.