Youngstown man guilty in 2016 shooting death
By Justin Wier
A jury found Kimani Hodges guilty of killing his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend in a 2016 murder prosecutors said was fueled by jealousy.
The jury presented its verdict to visiting Judge H.F. Inderlied Jr. Thursday evening after more than five hours of deliberation.
Hodges, 21, of Auburndale Avenue, was convicted on one count of aggravated murder with a firearm specification for the Feb. 16, 2016, shooting death of 20-year-old Jason Fonseca.
That charge carries a mandatory life sentence with parole eligibility in 18 years.
Attorneys made their closing arguments Thursday morning to the jury.
Assistant County Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa pointed to social media posts made by Hodges and said he was jealous that his girlfriend, Angel Bell, was still in contact with Fonseca, her ex-boyfriend.
“It’s a real-life soap opera,” Cantalamessa said. “But this soap opera you don’t come back from.”
After Fonseca posted on Twitter that he still loved Bell, Hodges responded by posting, “Love you self [expletive], she mine now.”
On Facebook, Hodges posted, “[Expletive]s wanna fight? I’m like naww, we toot pipes, you a be fighting for your life.”
Cantalamessa explained that “toot pipes” means to shoot guns.
“He doesn’t want Angel to go back to Jason, so he makes sure Jason isn’t available,” Cantalamessa said.
Defense Atty. Anthony Meranto attempted to cast doubts on the reliability of the witness testimony, particularly that of Bell.
Bell had been charged in the case, and prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges against her in exchange for her testimony. Meranto said Bell never mentioned being at the murder scene until she was offered the deal.
He also criticized the investigation carried out by the Youngstown Police Department.
“All things point to Kimani Hodges because they never looked anywhere else,” Meranto said.
He told the jury that if they aren’t firmly convinced of the truth, Hodges must be found not guilty.
“What’s the truth?” Meranto asked. “I’ve been through this twice now; I still don’t know.”
Hodges previously stood trial in January 2017, but Judge Inderlied halted proceedings and declared a mistrial because a witness stopped answering questions during cross examination and Bell agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Cantalamessa responded that Meranto has issues with the evidence found by police because it all points toward Hodges.
She also offered Hodges advice.
“The next time you want to get away with murder, don’t post on Facebook that you’d rather use guns than fists,” she said.