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WRITER: Ed Runyan

Akron woman pleads guilty in father-daughter shooting

YOUNGSTOWN — Courtney L. Hall of Akron pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of tampering with evidence in the Feb. 29 shooting deaths of Sierra Morris and her father, Leroy Morris. Hall, 30, is the girlfriend of John C. Bruner III, 31, who pleaded guilty Aug. 26 to murder, aggravated murder and other offenses and was sentenced to 41 years to life in prison. Bruner killed Sierra, 25, the mother of his ...

Filings hint at various reasons for mistrial

YOUNGSTOWN — A document filed Friday in the Myckle J. Hughes aggravated murder case suggests that an outburst by individuals who came to watch the trial could be a reason the trial was declared a mistrial before it even began. Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains said late Tuesday he believes the outburst is the reason for the mistrial. Another document filed Friday suggests that the reasons have more to ...

Attorney: ‘Experiments’ in Mahoning courtroom aren’t working

YOUNGSTOWN — An attorney has asked Mahoning County Domestic Relations Judge Beth Smith to postpone a protection order hearing scheduled for Tuesday because of concerns that it cannot be carried out effectively. Attorney John Juhasz filed a motion last week stating that Smith and others deserve praise for resuming hearings and trials despite COVID-19, but he called changes being implemented ...

Woman plans to plead guilty in murder case

YOUNGSTOWN — A Mahoning County grand jury indicted 14 people Thursday, but a person bound over to the grand jury months ago is expected to plead guilty to criminal charges next week without being indicted. Courtney Hall, 30, of Akron was bound over to the grand jury March 27 on complicity to aggravated murder in the Feb. 29 shooting deaths of Sierra Morris, 25, and her father, Leroy Morris, 58, in their West ...

Murder convicts from Boardman, Youngstown OK'd for release

YOUNGSTOWN — Despite the pleas of family members of two murder victims, the Ohio Parole Board announced this week it will release two men convicted in the killings — one in Boardman in 1982 and one in Youngstown in 1985. The decisions mean James L. Hall, 67, formerly of Cleveland, will be released in November, and Willie B. Riley, 55, formerly of Youngstown, will be released in January. Hall has ...

Youngstown man indicted in standoff

YOUNGSTOWN — Brandon Turjonis, 31, was indicted Thursday in connection with a three-hour standoff June 19 that brought out dozens of officers. He faces a felony weapons charge and misdemeanor inducing panic and aggravated menacing charge. Youngstown police, the Mahoning Valley Crisis Response Team and Youngstown Bomb Squad were among the personnel responding to Turjonis’ home in the 1300 block of Aberdeen ...

Phil Chance Jr. enters plea to records tampering

YOUNGSTOWN — A Boardman man who had to resign from the Youngstown Police Department in 2012 and never again work as a police officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to six counts of tampering with records. Phil Chance Jr., 41, of Glenridge Road, could get up to three years in prison when Judge Maureen Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court sentences him at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 15. At the time Chance was indicted ...

Federal drug trial for local doctor pushed to February

The federal drug crimes trial of Dr. Martin Escobar of Boardman has now been moved to Feb. 1, 2021, as the government provides Escobar with expert witnesses to help him prepare his defense. Escobar, 57, of Heatherwood Creek Run, is charged with 145 offenses, including unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances that caused the deaths of two patients. He operated Lake Shore Medical Center on ...

MetroParks pedals case to appeals court

YOUNGSTOWN — Mill Creek MetroParks has asked the 7th District Court of Appeals to allow its effort to acquire a right-of-way for the third phase of its bikeway to proceed, despite an appeal filed by the property owners. The MetroParks board has filed a motion asking the Youngstown-based appeals panel to deny the request of Diane Less of South Range Road in Green Township and Green Valley Wood Products to ...

Fed trials resume Sept. 21; Reardon asks for delay

The most recent update from the chief judge for the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland states that criminal trials can resume as early as Sept. 21, including cases in the U.S. District Court in Youngstown. It means a possible Sept. 28 trial for New Middletown man James P. Reardon set for Sept. 28 potentially could go forward. Reardon, 21, is accused of making threats against the Jewish Community Center in ...