Testimony begins in Myrtle Avenue murder case


By Joe Gorman

jgorman@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Prosecutors said during opening statements in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that witnesses will testify they saw Leonard Savage with a gun in his hands and gloves the night a Burbank Avenue man was killed in a parked car in November 2015 on West Myrtle Avenue.

Assistant Prosecutor Martin Desmond on Wednesday told jurors and Judge Lou D’Apolito that Savage, 22, and two other men killed Thomas Owens, 33, because Owens was responsible for the death of Savage’s uncle in 2004.

Jeffrey Limbian, Savage’s attorney, however, countered that Savage barely knew his uncle; Savage was not at the scene of the shooting; and the evidence does not fit the prosecution’s theory of the crime.

“The crime scene does not support the state’s case,” Limbian told jurors.

Savage, 22, is charged with aggravated murder. Also charged are Jason Heard, 20 and Jawon Hymes, 26. They will be tried at a later date.

Owens was killed as he sat in a parked car with several other people on West Myrtle on the South Side. None of those people was injured. Desmond told jurors there were 15 empty shell casings collected at the crime scene.

Jury selection began Tuesday and was completed Wednesday morning. Jurors viewed the crime scene and began hearing testimony after lunch.

Limbian said the evidence does not fit the state’s theory of the crime because of the number of shots fired at the car and where the other bullets hit. Limbian said it is hard to believe the other people in the car could not have been hit by those bullets, and he speculated perhaps they were not in the car in the first place.

Desmond said prosecutors have witnesses that can place a minivan Savage was known to drive near the crime scene and other witnesses that saw Savage and Heard with guns and gloves on their hands.

The prosecutor also said there was video surveillance from a nearby bar that shows the three at the scene, and an inmate at the county jail with Savage will testify that Savage admitted to the shooting.

Richard Owens, no relation to Thomas Owens, was killed by Thomas Owens as the two were drinking and handling a gun. Thomas Owens pleaded guilty to negligent homicide. Desmond said Savage wanted to avenge his uncle’s death.

But Limbian disputed that, adding there is no eyewitness testimony placing his client on West Myrtle.

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