Trial begins in death at South Side birthday party

Defendant is representing himself

By Joe Gorman


The mother of a man who was killed at an April 2016 party testified Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that partygoers told her her son was warned not to step out on the porch alone with the defendant.

Othella May, mother of 31-year-old Michael Pete, told jurors before Judge John Durkin she was told Pete was warned about being alone with the defendant, Jermaine Bunn Sr., 40, shortly before he was killed.

Bunn had been released from prison less than 48 hours before Pete was murdered.

“They told Michael not to go outside with him [Bunn] but he went outside with him anyway,” May testified.

Testimony in the case began Tuesday after jurors were selected Monday. They heard opening statements from Assistant Prosecutor Meghan Brundege and Bunn, who is representing himself.

Bunn is accused of killing Pete at the April 3, 2016, birthday party for Pete’s cousin on East Evergreen Avenue.

Brundege told jurors Bunn was not invited to the party yet went and was inside before coming outside on the porch with Pete. A person at the party came outside and saw Bunn shoot Pete in the chest, and then Bunn ran to a car with two other men inside and drove away.

Brundege did not give a motive in her opening statement as to why Bunn would shoot Pete.

Pete was taken to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital before he died, and Bunn was also there at the same time seeking treatment for a gunshot wound to the face, Brundege said. Police at the time said Bunn was wounded in an exchange of gunfire with someone at the home, but Bunn denied that was an exchange of gunfire in his opening statement. He said he wanted to clear that up because he knew Pete for a long time and respected him.

“I ain’t gonna let them use him as a scapegoat,” Bunn said to the jury.

Brundege did not say how Bunn was wounded, but she did say that while Bunn was in the car, he got rid of the gun used to kill Pete. Both men in the car with Bunn are expected to testify, Brundege said.

During his opening statement, Bunn said police decided to close the case once they heard his name.

“They had my name, and they wrapped the investigation up,” Bunn said. “I will show that through this whole trial.”

May said her son is survived by a daughter and a twin sister.

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