Murder suspects indicted

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


A Mahoning County grand jury has indicted a man and woman charged in the city’s first homicide of 2013.

Larry Blue, 32, of Parmelee Avenue, and Khadijah Nicole Payden-Briggs, 19, of Maplewood Court, are charged in connection with the shooting death of 52-year-old David Stokes of Columbiana County and the wounding of Matthew Sharp, also of Columbiana County. The case was directly presented to the grand jury, which returned the indictment Thursday.

Blue faces one count of aggravated murder and two counts of felonious assault. The second felonious assault charge is the result of Blue purportedly attempting to shoot a third man riding in the car with Stokes and Sharp.

Exactly one week ago, Stokes was found dead outside a burgundy car on Rockwood Lane inside the Rockford Village Housing Development on the East Side.

The county coroner determined Stokes had been shot multiple times but died of a gunshot wound to the back. Sharp, who was inside the car, also suffered a gunshot wound.

Blue is in the county jail on a $1.25 million bond.

Payden-Briggs is charged with complicity to aggravated robbery. She also is in jail on a $150,000 bond.

Police and prosecutors believe the shooting was the end to a drug deal orchestrated by Payden-Briggs that somehow went wrong. Police said the shooting victims previously had purchased drugs in deals put together by the woman.

Blue is represented by Atty. Thomas Zena, who has said there is another side to the story of the incident and of his client.

There is no criminal history for Payden-Briggs, but Blue has past arrests for drug possession, felonious assault, carrying concealed weapons and illegal possession of a weapon, and he has failed to appear in court five times.

Youngstown police reports also show Blue was arrested on one of those occasions purportedly for punching a woman in the face, fracturing several bones.

Blue also has had run-ins with police over the loud sound system in his car.

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