Prosecutors says property dispute led to murder
Victim had transferred home to defendant
By Joe Gorman
Prosecutors said in opening statements in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that Dashonti Baker killed Rae’venna Faircloth-Thomas nearly two years ago because of a property dispute.
Baker, 26, is charged with aggravated murder in the death of Faircloth-Thomas, 24, who was found shot six times inside an SUV on Oneta Street on the West Side on June 23, 2017.
Jury selection began Monday before Judge Anthony Donofrio.
Assistant Prosecutor Michael Yacovone said Thursday police found a distinctive car driven by Baker and his former co-defendant that witnesses said was involved in the shooting.
Inside the car was a deed from the victim transferring a piece of property to Baker. Yacovone said the transfer did not go well.
“It was not a smooth transaction,” Yacovone said.
The murder weapon was found in a plastic bag in Mill Creek Park, Yacovone said. Cellphone data also links Baker to the crime, Yacovone said.
Defense attorney Walter Madison gave a brief opening statement, telling jurors to concentrate on what the state is not telling them.
Virginia Faircloth, the mother of the victim, said Faircloth-Thomas and Baker had grown up together and were close.
“They called each other brother and sister,” she said.
Faircloth said the home her daughter transferred to Baker was the home of Faircloth-Thomas’ grandmother, which she came to own because Faircloth-Thomas took care of her grandmother.
Yacovone said Baker was known to have a silver Chevrolet Impala that had a broken back window and a carpet covering up that window.
A couple of hours after Faircloth-Thomas was killed, the Impala was found by police officer George Wallace at the home Baker shared with the co-defendant, Barraya Hickson.
Hickson, 26, earlier this week pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of obstruction of justice.