By Joe Gorman
The 7th District Court of Appeals heard oral arguments for two men convicted of killing a teen on South Avenue in 2011.
A three-judge panel of Mary DeGenaro, Joseph Vukovich and Gene Donofrio heard counsel Wednesday argue appeals for Rayshawn Royal, 20, and Deandre McCreary, 19, who were both convicted in June 2012 for the June 18, 2011, murder of 16-year-old Brandon Adkins in his driveway in the 3100 block of South Avenue.
McCreary’s lawyer, J.P. Laczko, said that his client’s conviction should be thrown out because of testimony that someone took a firearm from his client at a party before Adkins was shot.
Laczko said that testimony prejudiced the jury against his client because it made them think that he was a person who carried guns. He said Adkins was not at that party as well.
He also said witness testimony was inconsistent when it came to his client, and their testimony clashed several times during the trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court before Judge Maureen Sweeney — and that one witness testified of something she was told, not of what she had seen.
Laczko also said that the photo identification against his client should be thrown out because the officer who administered the lineup was not a “blind administrator,” or someone who was not part of the case, but an officer who was involved in the investigation.
He summed up the case against his client in three words: “It’s a mess.”
Assistant Prosecutor Ralph Rivera argued that police followed the rules when they asked the witnesses to identify McCreary in the photo lineup. He said the officer who administered the lineup can know who the suspect is, but cannot know which folder contains the suspect’s photo — and that rule was followed by police. He also disagreed with Laczko’s claim of inconsistent witness testimony, saying that the testimony was consistent.
For Royal, lawyer Doug King argued that his conviction should be thrown out because the three main witnesses who identified his client as the shooter could not be trusted. He said none of them saw the faces of the shooters, one was inside when the shooting happened and another told police 25 times during her interview that she had no idea who fired the shots that killed Adkins.
Additionally, King said one of those teens was coerced by a detective, who told her if she did not identify someone she was as guilty of Adkins’ death as the person who killed him. None of the three teens wanted to testify because they were afraid of police, King said. King said they admitted telling police what they wanted to hear and that police coached them to identify the shooters.
Rivera said the three were afraid to testify because they were afraid of retaliation, not police. He said police did not go too far by telling a witness they needed to identify the person who killed Adkins.
“They’re imploring her to tell the truth,” Rivera said.
Rivera said witness cooperation is a big problem in Youngstown, and he said all three testified to the same set of circumstances, and if they did not see the shooting they saw the pair in the drive just before Adkins was shot.
The judges will issue a ruling at a later date.
Both McCreary and Royal are serving sentences of 28 years to life in prison.