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Defendant denies killing man at South Side bar

Thursday, June 14, 2018

By Joe Gorman


Johnny Wallace III said he never shot Colin Brown in the restroom of a South Avenue bar in November.

Testifying in his own defense Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in his murder trial, Wallace, 23, said he was at the Last Call bar, 2929 South Ave., on Nov. 28, 2017, for several hours, but he spent most of that time playing pool and watching television and never used the restroom.

Brown, 45, was shot and killed in the restroom of the Last Call. While no one witnessed the actual shooting, witnesses told police Brown and Wallace were the only two people in the restroom when a shot was heard, and Wallace walked out. Brown was found on the floor by his girlfriend.

Jurors began hearing in the testimony in the case Monday before Judge Lou A. D’Apolito. They will return this morning when they are expected to hear closing arguments and instructions on the law before they begin deliberations.

Testifying under direct examination by defense attorney Tony Meranto, Wallace said he was playing pool when he heard a gunshot and immediately ran out of the bar.

“I assumed it was a gunshot,” Wallace said. Wallace said he ran toward East Florida Avenue and got in a car driven by a friend who took him to a cousin’s house on West La álede Avenue. While there, he said he learned from news reports he was wanted for Brown’s murder, so he shaved his dreadlocks because he said he wanted to look “presentable” for trial because he planned on turning himself in and getting a lawyer.

Wallace was arrested the next evening in the home by police and U.S. Marshals.

Wallace told Meranto and Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa, who prosecuted him, that he was never in the restroom, and he told Meranto he did not kill Brown.

“I did not shoot Colin Brown,” Wallace said.

Under cross-examination, Wallace did admit that he went to the bar frequently and that he would have no reason to doubt that other witnesses who testified in the trial knew who he was.

Earlier in the day, jurors heard from the pathologist with the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office who did the autopsy on Brown, who was killed by a gunshot to the neck.

The pathologist also testified that Brown had injuries from gunpowder on his skin, which meant that the shot that killed him was fired from a distance of about 2 to 3 feet.