Toney murder trial reset; key witness unable to travel
By Joe Gorman
The capital murder trial of a man accused of killing an elderly South Side man and wounding his wife in 2010 has been reset to April 28.
Judge Maureen Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court on Friday granted a prosecution motion to postpone the case against 32-year-old Aubrey Toney in the death of Thomas Repchic, 74, and the wounding of his wife, Jacqueline, 74, on Sept. 25, 2010, because a key prosecution witness in a Southern state cannot travel because she is near the end of a high-risk pregnancy and she also cannot travel until eight weeks after she gives birth.
Prosecutors had asked in motions filed Thursday that if a postponement were granted, would someone have to be sent to that state to get the woman’s deposition.
Dawn Cantalamessa, an assistant prosecutor, told Judge Sweeney the prosecutor’s office was not prepared to pay the travel cost, and there also were security concerns because Toney would have to go as well.
Orientation for jurors for the case was set to begin Friday but was stopped, and they were not required to come to court.
Repchic had picked up his wife at St. Dominic Church, where she worked as a secretary, and was driving on Southern Boulevard near East Philadelphia Avenue when several shots were fired at their car from an assault rifle. Jacqueline Repchic’s wounds were so severe that a foot had to be amputated.
Police say it was a case of mistaken identity that led to the Repchics’ car being shot. They said Toney was looking for a man with whom he had been feuding and who drove a car similar to the Repchics’. Police said Toney fired at their car because he thought it belonged to his rival.
Judge Sweeney said she wanted to know why prosecutors waited until this week to advise the court of the woman’s condition.
“This should’ve been brought to the court’s attention a long time ago,” Judge Sweeney said.
Cantalamessa said this is the first time in Toney’s case that prosecutors asked for a continuance. She said defense attorneys had asked for continuances before and had them granted.
John Juhasz, one of Toney’s lawyers, said there had been previous posts on social-media websites about the woman’s pregnancy. He added that he asked for continuances during those time periods because that would heighten the already large amount of pretrial publicity the case had received and would make it harder to pick a fair and impartial jury for his client.
Judge Sweeney told the defense lawyers and prosecutors she will not continue the trial again no matter the circumstances. She also wants to have a motion as soon as possible on a defense request for a change of venue and a hearing on DNA evidence.
In May 2012, Kevin Agee, 28, was convicted for his role in the crimes as the driver of the car. He was sentenced to nearly 40 years in prison, but he is set to be resentenced Tuesday because the 7th District Court of Appeals ruled in December he was sentenced improperly.
The woman was a witness in Agee’s trial, and Cantalamessa said her testimony is crucial because her testimony in Agee’s trial rebuts Toney’s alibi, which was not submitted to the court until recently. She also was listed as the owner of the 1999 Dodge Durango that was used in the shooting, but she had no role in the crime, police said.