Judge OKs moving trial in YSU frat shooting case to Akron
By Peter H. Milliken
The trial of two of the remaining suspects in the Feb. 6, 2011, mass shooting that left one person dead and 11 others wounded at a house party near Youngstown State University will begin Nov. 26 in Akron.
Judge John M. Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court has signed judgment entries directing that the trial of Mark Jones and Jamelle Jackson will start that day in Summit County Common Pleas Court.
Without objection from the prosecution, Judge Durkin upheld the defense motions for a change of venue due to extensive publicity surrounding the case in Mahoning County, but he overruled Jackson’s motion for appointment of a special prosecutor.
It was the first time in 19 years that a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court judge granted a change of venue and moved a trial to another Ohio county.
The prosecution alleges Mark Jones handed his brother, Columbus Jones Jr., the gun Columbus fired into the house. The prosecution alleges Jackson was the other shooter.
Columbus Jones Jr., 23, was convicted last month by a jury in Youngstown of the murder of Jamail Johnson, a 25-year-old YSU senior, and the wounding of the surviving victims and sentenced by Judge Durkin to 92 years to life in prison.
Over the defendants’ objection, Judge Durkin sustained the motion by Rebecca Doherty, an assistant Mahoning County prosecutor, to join Jackson and Mark Jones in one trial.
Robert Regula, administrator of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, said he received confirmation Friday morning from Andrew Bauer, executive of Summit County Common Pleas Court, that a courtroom in Akron will be available to accommodate the trial on Nov. 26.
Regula said 12 jurors, and likely two alternates, will be chosen from a jury panel of 50 to 60 Summit County residents.
Two other defendants in the case, Demetrius Wright, who is charged with carrying a concealed weapon, tampering with evidence and obstructing justice, and Brandon Carter, who is charged with obstructing justice, are scheduled for pre-trial hearings in early November. The court docket does not show trial dates for them.
When a change of venue occurs, the judge, his bailiff and the prosecuting and defense lawyers go to the county to which the trial is transferred; and a jury is selected and the trial is conducted in the new location.