Accused killer wants photo identification thrown out
A Mahoning County Common Pleas Court judge will decide this month if a witness photo-identification of an accused killer will be permitted at trial.
Janero Mitchell, 27, of Crandall Avenue is charged with murder in the death of 57-year-old Mark Haskins, who was gunned down on a North Side street in October 2012. Mitchell, via his attorney Thomas Zena, is asking the court to throw out a photo line up conducted by Youngstown police.
The case is before Judge James C. Evans of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Zena contends that the lineup was unduly suggestive or improperly administered. He argues that the witness did not name Mitchell as the shooter during the actual photo-lineup process but waited until later to identify his client.
Haskins was found with several gunshot wounds in front of a house on the southwest corner of Bissell and Kensington avenues on the North Side. He was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center, where he died a day after being shot.
Detective Sgt. Daryl Martin, Youngstown police, was assigned as lead detective in the investigation and was one of the first officers to the scene. He testified Wednesday that he interviewed a witness who watched the shooting take place, then prepared two photo lineups for the woman.
Martin said there was initially a second suspect along with Mitchell, hence the need for two separate photo lineups.
Under police-department rules for conducting photo lineups, the lead detective on the case cannot administer the lineup. That task falls to any other detective in the department who does not have knowledge of the case or the suspects.
Detective Sgt. David Sweeney, Youngstown police, administered the lineup. He testified, under questioning from Assistant County Prosecutors Dawn Cantalamessa and Jennifer McLaughlin, that Mitchell was in photo number seven of the first lineup and did not appear at all in the second lineup.
The witness said two photos from the first lineup, including the photo of Mitchell, looked familiar and made reference to a photo from the second set of photos, none of which included Mitchell.
The witness was given a ride home from the police department by Deputy Sheriff John Naples, from whom she was renting an apartment, and that is when a definitive identification was made. She told the deputy that number seven was the shooter.
Naples informed Youngstown detectives about the woman’s revelation.
Zena wants the identification thrown out, but Judge Evans will not make a decision until at least 20 days from now after both sides have submitted written memorandums.
This is not Mitchell’s first time before a judge for the taking of a life. Mitchell pleaded guilty in 2006 to reckless homicide for a 2005 case and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Those charges came in June 2005, when Mitchell was 19, in the shooting death of 39-year-old Anthony McBride.
McBride, described as homeless, was found shot to death on the sidewalk between 810 and 840 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Youngstown.