Lead investigator takes stand in murder case
By Joe Gorman
Jurors in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court heard how the lead detective in a 2011 murder case eliminated suspects and how he managed to get information that led to indictments against two people for the crime last fall.
Youngstown Police Detective Sgt. Ronald Rodway laid out for jurors and Judge Maureen Sweeney how he was able to find out Lamar Reese and Frankie “Tank” Hudson, both 21, were responsible for the Sept. 16, 2011, shooting of 17-year-old Josh Davis at a Willis Avenue house.
Reese’s trial began Tuesday after a jury was seated. Davis and Hudson were both to be tried together, but Judge Sweeney severed the trials last week. Hudson is expected to be tried for Davis’ death and a 2010 murder shortly after Reese’s trial concludes.
Rodway testified Wednesday there was not a lot of evidence at the crime scene. He said there were two witnesses on the street but they only heard Davis scream about the time he was shot.
A few days later, Davis’ mother contacted Rodway with some names of people who may have been involved in her son’s death, but Rodway said those people were cleared after police investigated.
He received other information passed on from Davis’ mother. Police also traced the calls on Davis’ cellphone back to the last person who talked to him, which was about five minutes before police believe he was shot.
That person also was later brought to the police station to be interviewed, and after the interview, Rodway spoke to prosecutors about getting indictments for Reese and Hudson for the murder of Davis.
Also testifying before Rodway was a man who said he was a friend of Reese’s — Dontrell McCreary — who said he overheard Reese talk about Davis’ death in the county jail after Reese had a conversation with Hudson.
McCreary testified that Reese and Hudson were conversing on opposite sides of a heavy steel door inside the jail sometime in October or November 2013.
McCreary was in jail after being indicted on charges of participating in a criminal gang — the Vic Boys.
Reese was in jail on charges unrelated to Davis’ death. McCreary testified he heard Reese and Hudson talking and later in their cell Reese told him about Davis’ murder.
McCreary said Reese told him “it was supposed to be a robbery but it went bad, and we shot him.”
Under cross-examination from defense attorney Mark LaVelle, McCreary said he was able to hear the conversation even though there were about 30 inmates milling about and Hudson and Reese were speaking through a heavy, iron door.
He admitted on direct examination from Martin Desmond, an assistant county prosecutor, that his charge was reduced to conspiracy to participate in a criminal gang and the recommended sentence is probation for his cooperation in the case.
There will be no testimony in the trial today. Rodway is expected to be cross-examined again Friday.
Police said Davis was a marijuana dealer, and the motive for his death was robbery. When Davis was found by police, they also found six bags of marijuana in his coat pocket.