Suspects in two Youngstown killings want evidence tossed
YOUNGSTOWN — Judge Anthony D’Apolito heard 90 minutes of testimony Tuesday in two East Side murder cases.
The cases involve two men, accused of killing two other men, five months apart last year.
The first defendant was Brian Donlow Jr. 25. His attorney, John Laczko, asked the judge to suppress evidence regarding a witness who picked Donlow out of a photo lineup of four people. The witness said Donlow was present the night Brandon Wylie, 30, was shot to death at the Plaza View apartment complex.
Laczko questioned former Youngstown detective Doug Bobovnyik about the type of photo lineup he showed the witness, questioning wheth- er it was done fairly.
The woman said she knew Donlow from the East Side, but he was not the only Brian Donlow she knew, Bobovnyik testified.
“There were four Brian Donlows or a variation of the name,” Bobovnyik said “To my best recollection, they were all half-brothers.” In addition to the defendant, there was a Brian Donlow III, Brian Trevon Fredrick Donlow and Byron Brian Bryson Donlow.
Bobovnyik said he learned from management at the apartment there were Donlows who had lived at the complex.
The detective said he pulled photos of the four from a law enforcement database and took them with him when he interviewed the witness a couple days after the killing, but he wasn’t prepared to do a more sophisticated photo lineup.
As he spoke with the witness at a residence, he showed her the photos of the four Brian Donlows. She pointed to the one of the defendant and said he was “the Brian Donlow that was at the apartment,” Bobovnyik testified.
Laczko asked Bobovnyik why he didn’t take the witness to the police station to have her look at a photo lineup on video.
“I was lucky she was talking to me,” Bobovnyik said. When he asked her later to come to the police station, she said she was “not available,” Bobovnyik testified.
Mike Yacovone, assistant county prosecutor, summed up the testimony at the end of the hearing, saying the law does not always require a sophisticated type of lineup, especially in cases where the witness “knows the defendant.”
In the second hearing, Donlow’s co-defendant in the Wylie killing, Stephon Hopkins, 22, asked the court to suppress evidence regarding a key found in a car with the body of Christopher Jackson, Jr. 21, of Warren. Hopkins and his attorney are not challenging DNA evidence related to the key but they are asking that testimony not be allowed indicating that the key locked and unlocked the door at Hopkins’ Detroit Avenue home.
Donlow is also charged in that death, which occurred Nov. 18, 2018. Jackson was found shot to death in the car at Bennington and Stewart Avenues. Another man with Jackson was seriously wounded but lived.
Hopkins’ attorney, Jerry Ingram, and assistant Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa questioned detective Mike Lambert in that hearing. Ingram later summed up his position by saying Hopkins has a constitutional right against unlawful search and seizure in his own home. He said trying the key in the lock at Hopkins’ home was an unlawful search.
Lambert explained that after the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation tested the key, it was returned to Youngstown police. Lambert then went to Hopkins’ home and tried it in the door. The lock turned. He tried it again, and it locked the door, Lambert said.
He knocked on the front and side doors before trying the key in the lock, but nobody answered, he said.
Judge D’Apolito will rule on the evidence suppression requests after the defense and prosecution each file a follow up brief.