Homeless murder suspect indicted

Staff report


The Mahoning County grand jury indicted a man in the May 28 death of James Syster, 55, who was knocked unconscious during a fight, fell face-down into a puddle and drowned.

Jayjuane Hardy, 40, was indicted Thursday on murder and felonious-assault charges. Robert Reed, 52, who purportedly made a false statement to police to impede the prosecution of Hardy, was indicted on an obstructing-justice charge.

Hardy and Reed are homeless, as was Syster.

Police said Hardy and Syster had an argument, followed by the fight in which Syster was knocked unconscious.

A homeless person found Syster face-down in the puddle behind a Front Street parking lot in the city’s downtown shortly after 10 p.m. and asked a woman who was walking her dog to flag down police.

Hardy is in Mahoning County jail under $750,000 bond, and Reed is jailed under $75,000 bond after their appearances Monday in Youngstown Municipal Court. Both men were arrested Saturday.

Police do not believe Hardy held Syster’s face under water in the puddle.

Capt. Brad Blackburn, chief of detectives, would not discuss details as to how Reed purportedly misled police.

Syster was the city’s fourth homicide victim this year. There were six homicides in the city at this point last year, and a total of 20 during 2013.

A Mahoning County Common Pleas Court jury acquitted Hardy of a 2009 felonious-assault charge.

Municipal court records show 17 charges filed against him since 1996, including three this year.

Hardy was shot in the leg on South Garland Avenue on the East Side in June 2008.

Several municipal-court misdemeanor cases have been filed against Reed since 1997.

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