Witness testifies about seeing defendants in murder case

By Joe Gorman



A prosecution witness in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court testified he saw the three men accused of killing Thomas Owens in November 2015 leave a South Side bar together and shortly after they left he heard several gunshots.

The witness, who is not being identified by The Vindicator because threats have been made on his life, testified Wednesday before Judge Lou D’Apolito that the defendant, Jason Heard, 21, Leonard Savage, 22, and a third man left a Glenwood Avenue bar and turned down East Myrtle Avenue. A few seconds later, gunfire broke out.

“Probably three or four minutes after they left, I heard gunshots. It was multiple,” the witness said.

Owens was killed Nov. 14, 2015, as he was sitting a parked car on West Myrtle Avenue with three other men. Heard faces charges of aggravated murder and three counts of attempted murder. Savage was convicted in November of complicity to aggravated murder and complicity to attempted murder, and Judge D’Apolito sentenced him to 35 years to life in prison. The third defendant, Jawonn Hymes, 26, will be tried at a later date.

Police said Savage wanted to kill Owens because, in 2004, Owens killed Savage’s uncle, Richard Owens, no relation to Thomas, as the pair were handling a gun. Thomas Owens did plead guilty in that case to negligent homicide and was sentenced.

Testimony in Heard’s trial began Tuesday.

The witness, who was 16 at the time but is now 18, told Assistant Prosecutor Michael Rich he ran into Heard and Savage at a South Side bar where the witness went to buy marijuana. He said the two asked him if he wanted to take part in a robbery. The witness then went to the Glenwood Avenue bar where they met Hymes. The three men went into the bar while the witness stayed in a van he had been in.

The witness said the three came out of the bar and then hopped in a car. He said a couple of minutes later was when he heard the gunshots.

The witness also said he found bullets in the van while the three were gone. He admitted lying to police about the events when he was interviewed two days after Owens’ death, but he said he was truthful in a follow-up interview.

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