Jury deliberating in West Side murder case


By Joe Gorman

jgorman@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa told jurors Thursday it appears Rae’venne Faircloth-Thomas was unafraid just minutes before she was shot to death in her SUV.

Speaking during closing arguments in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court before Judge Anthony Donofrio in the trial of Dashonti Baker, 26, who is charged with aggravated murder in the death of Faircloth-Thomas, Cantalamessa said Faircloth-Thomas was sitting in her SUV June 23, 2017, on Oneta Street on the West Side just minutes before Baker killed her.

Jurors received the case to deliberate about 1:30 p.m., after summations and instructions in the law by Judge Donofrio. They retired at 4:30 p.m. and are expected to continue deliberating today.

Cantalamessa said Faircloth-Thomas had no reason to be afraid of meeting the man she had known since childhood and called her “brother.”

“She was taking selfies by herself in her car before she was killed,” Cantalamessa said. “I don’t think she thinks she’s in danger because he’s [Baker] supposed to be her brother.”

Defense attorney Walter Madison told jurors prosecutors presented them no direct evidence connecting his client to the crime, despite the fact prosecutors called 24 witnesses.

“It’s the quality of what they had to say, because each and every one of them had no direct evidence,” Madison said.

Cantalamessa said Faircloth-Thomas was killed over a house she had deeded to Baker. Cantalamessa said Faircloth-Thomas felt short-changed and constantly asked Baker for money she claimed he owed her.

“She wants her money,” Cantalamessa said. “She’s getting played around.” Madison said even if that were true, his client already had the property, and a lawyer who was a prosecution witness testified that property was deeded to Baker as a gift.

Cantalamessa said there is strong circumstantial evidence tying Baker to the crime. She said a car witnesses saw speeding away from the crime scene that had a broken out window covered with a blanket and missing a hubcap was found at Baker’s home. She also said when Baker was told he would be given a gunshot residue test, there is video of him at the police department licking and sucking his hands loudly.

Madison said detectives did an incomplete investigation, never checking Baker’s story or towing another car at his home which may have had evidence that could have proved he was nowhere near the crime scene. Madison said that once police found the car, they thought they had their case made.

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