Jurors fail to reach verdict in murder case
By Joe Gorman
Leonard Savage will spend his Thanksgiving holiday wondering if he will be found guilty of aggravated murder.
Closing arguments wrapped up Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in the case against Savage, 22, who is accused of the Nov. 14, 2015, slaying of Thomas Owens, 33.
Jurors got the case to deliberate about 2 p.m. after closing arguments were completed, and they were instructed in the law by Judge Lou A. D’Apolito. They deliberated throughout the afternoon before being dismissed by the judge at about 5 p.m. Wednesday without reaching a verdict.
Because of the holiday, Judge D’Apolito said jurors will not return to the court until Monday.
Savage is one of three men charged in the death of Owens, of Burbank Avenue, who was killed as he was sitting in a parked car on West Myrtle Avenue. Prosecutors said the killing was revenge by Savage for the death of his uncle Richard Owens in 2004 after the pair were handling a gun that went off.
Thomas Owens, no relation, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in that case.
Savage is charged with aggravated murder in the death of Thomas Owens as well as attempted murder and felonious assault because there were three other men in the car with Thomas Owens when he was shot. None of those men was injured.
Assistant Prosecutor Martin Desmond said in his hour-long-plus opening statement that video from a nearby bar shows Savage and co-defendants Jawon Himes, 26 and Jason Heard, 20, watching Thomas Owens and the men he was with leave. He said the video shows them handling guns, putting on gloves, then getting in a car that left the bar and turned down West Myrtle Avenue. Just two minutes later someone called 911 to report the shooting that killed Thomas Owens, Desmond said.
“All those times match up,” Desmond said.
The case saw a rare legal maneuver when Judge D’Apolito granted requests by prosecutors to allow statements by two witnesses to be entered into the record for jurors rather than have the witnesses testify, because prosecutors said they had been threatened by friends or family of Savage. Because of the ruling, that means Savage’s lawyer, Jeffrey Limbian, could not cross examine the witnesses.
Limbian told the jurors that the statement of one of the witnesses, a woman who claimed that she saw Savage and the others plotting to shoot Thomas Owens, was riddled with inconsistencies and that police did not do a good job of collecting evidence and securing the crime scene.
Limbian said the entire case is filled with “lies, conjecture and speculation.”