Jury selection begins in Myrtle Avenue murder case


By Joe Gorman

jgorman@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

After a daylong hearing Monday, jury selection began Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for one of three defendants in the death of a man last November on a South Side street.

Leonard Savage, 22, is going on trial for the Nov. 14, 2015, death of Thomas Owens, 33, of Burbank Avenue. Owens was shot to death in a car parked on Myrtle Avenue.

A second defendant, Jason Heard, 20, had his case severed from Savage’s after Monday’s hearing over what prosecutors termed are threats against several witnesses.

A third defendant, Jawon Hymes, 26, had his case severed from the other two earlier this month and will go on trial at a later date.

Judge Lou D’Apolito is hearing the case. Savage is charged with aggravated murder.

Monday’s hearing came about after a request by prosecutors to allow statements by witnesses to be entered into court instead of having the witnesses testify. Prosecutors alleged that Heard and Savage or people close to them threatened the witnesses. The move would deny the defendants the right to cross examine the witnesses as is granted under the constitution.

Prosecutors had to prove that the witnesses could not testify because of the actions of the defendants.

Judge D’Apolito ruled that a statement by a witness can be used against Savage and he then severed Savage’s case from Heard’s. Police said Owens was sitting in a park car with several other people when the car was riddled by bullets and he was shot and killed. No one else was hurt.

Investigators have not said what exactly led to the slaying but Owens and a group of people he was with and the suspects had met up somewhere the previous evening.

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