UPDATE | Austin gets life with no parole; Henderson gets 36 years
YOUNGSTOWN — Judge John Durkin handed down lengthy sentences in the cases of two men convicted May 6 as enforcers for an East Side drug trafficking organization.
Michael Austin, 22, who was found guilty of three counts of aggravated murder and one count of murder, all with firearm specifications and also a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, was sentenced to life with no parole.
Hakeem Henderson, 24, found guilty of two counts of aggravated murder with firearm specifications and firearm specifications. Jurors acquitted him of the other two counts of aggravated murder. His sentence is about to be handed down, received a sentence of 36-years-to-life in prison
"I am convinced if there is ever an opportunity for you to hit the streets again, you would pick up right where you left off," Judge Durkin told the men.
Austin was convicted of aggravated murder for the Nov. 13, 2011, shooting death of Adam Christian, 23, and also for the death three days later of Raymond “Ramel” Hayes, 20. The third count of aggravated murder was for the death of Ryan Slade, 20, who was found shot to death in September 2012 in a car on Banford Lane and for a charge of murder for the death of Keara McCullough, 19.
Henderson was convicted of the murders of Christian and Hayes but found not guilty of the murders of Slade and McCullough.
Sierra Hayes, sister of Raymond Hayes, said, "All I have is memories."
Sally Cox, Hayes' grandmother, said she forgives both men. Says Henderson may deserve a break, but Austin does not.
"He has no soul," Cox said.
For Keara McCullough, 19, who Austin was convicted of killing in the same car with Slade, her mother said she struggles with forgiveness.
"How do you forgive someone who hasn't asked to be forgiven?"
Speaking of Ryan Slade, 20, his aunt, Regina Slade, said she wonders what Henderson and Austin could have been.
"I hope one day one of you own up and give us an apology," she said. "Now is their day and I want them to face judgment day."
Family members of Adam Christian, 23, declined to speak.
Assistant Prosecutor Martin Desmond told Judge Durkin that the actions of Austin and Henderson "were so brazen, so bold, so cunning, so selfish," that the only appropriate penalty is life without parole.
"This is the case where these sentences are called for, Desmond said.
Austin said just before he was sentenced he did not receive a fair trial. "To know us is to love us," he said.