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Suspect in Austintown killing ‘obsessed’

Submitted photo This photo from last month shows Ashley Lockhart, left, with her cousin, Katelyn Lofaro. Lockhart died Oct. 8 after being shot to death in the parking lot of Lofaro’s apartment in Austintown. The two were headed out for a “girl’s night” when Lockhart’s former boyfriend, Steve Green III, confronted Lockhart. Police charged Green with aggravated murder in Lockhart’s death.

AUSTINTOWN — Katelyn Lofaro says she’s known “Stevie” Green since he became the boyfriend of her best friend and cousin, Ashley Lockhart.

Nine years later, he’s accused of shooting Lockhart to death this month outside of Lofaro’s Compass West apartment — while the victim was on the phone with a police dispatcher.

Police and court documents indicate Lockhart and Green had trouble involving a gun in the past.

Lofaro spent time with both of them, from Youngstown, during their early years. Green and Lockhart had a daughter together, age 5.

But after both women started raising a child and working, they didn’t see each other much.

That changed about a year ago, when the cousins started to “hang out” again, Lofaro said. It was around the time Lockhart and Green split up.

Lockhart said she could see that Green, 24, had changed from when she knew him before.

“From the last time we were all real close, Stevie wasn’t like this. He changed a lot over the years,” Lofaro said.

The big thing she noticed in the past year was that Green was “obsessed” with Lockhart, 25.

“He told me several times: ‘She made me this way. She makes me crazy,'” Lofaro said. “It wasn’t something he’d do just to anybody. He just had an obsession over her.”

Lockhart’s obituary from Davis-Becker Funeral Home, Boardman, states she died “at Compass West Apartments in Austintown as a result of domestic violence.” It also adds: “The family would like to thank everyone from the bottom of their hearts who are keeping Ashley’s story alive about domestic violence.”

APPEASEMENT

Lockhart had worked as a corrections officer at one time and was a “very blunt, strong person.”

But Lofaro noticed that Lockhart’s savings had gone from many thousands to less than $1,000. Lofaro said it was because Lockhart had given money to Green.

Lofaro believes this was one of many things Lockhart did to appease Green when he wanted something from her. She said Green would frequently talk to Lockhart while possessing a firearm. Lofaro said Green also would point it at her.

“He always found out where she was,” Lofaro said. “She had a gun to her head probably more than anybody in their lifetime at 25.”

Lofaro added: “She didn’t let me know she was scared, but I know she was because she would have called police.”

Green had no previous criminal record, according to a search of local court records.

As far as Lofaro knew, Lockhart had never called police on Green — until Oct. 8 when Green showed up at Lofaro’s apartment.

DEADLY NIGHT

“She came to see me,” Lofaro said. “We had plans. They started arguing in my parking lot,” Lofaro said of Lockhart and Green. “We were getting ready to leave. We were going to have a girls night. The fight started because of that.”

Austintown police said Green confessed later to killing Lockhart. He is in the Mahoning County jail in lieu of $1 million bond, charged in her slaying.

“She passed away in my parking lot. I was with her in her final moments,” Lofaro said of the late-night shooting.

Police said the incident began with an Austintown dispatcher receiving a 10:37 p.m. call from Lockhart about an ongoing domestic dispute outside of an apartment building on Compass West Drive. The dispatcher could hear arguing between Lockhart and a man, Lt. Tom Collins of the Austintown Police Department has said.

The dispatcher “heard multiple shots through the phone and then screaming,” Collins said. Then the dispatcher realized Lockhart had been shot. Austintown police said they arrested Green after he turned himself in and confessed.

Lofaro said that, as far as she knows, the call Lockhart made to 911 on Oct. 8 was the first time Lockhart ever called police on Green.

She thinks the reason she didn’t call earlier was that she was concerned that if the police did not take the case seriously enough and Green found out she had called, “then he really would hurt her.” Lofaro said she also believes Lockhart thought she should build up evidence of his behavior before she took the case to the police and courts.

“That was the first time she called 911 and look what happened. The first time she calls the cops on him, and he hurt her forever,” Lofaro said.

PREVIOUS EPISODE

A Vindicator public records request to the Youngstown Police Department, however, turned up a 2018 incident in which police did investigate a call to Lockhart’s home in the Brownlee Woods area on the South Side of the city — involving Green.

It’s not clear who called police at 7:19 p.m. May 19, 2018, but when officers arrived, Lockhart told them Green had come to her home to “talk about his issues,” saying Green told her he would “admit himself to the hospital if she would talk to him, in which she agreed.”

Green wanted to lie down in bed with her, but she refused. So he went to the kitchen and got a knife, returning with the knife in one hand and a gun in the other, the report states. After Green put the knife and gun on the dresser, she lay down with him, she said.

He tried to kiss her, so she went in the living room, she said. He brought the knife and gun and followed her. They argued about her phone, and she refused to show it to him, then walked away from him, saying, “I’m done,” the report states.

Green struck her in the head with the gun, so Lockhart walked out of the house. But Green got into his car and followed her to the end of the driveway and pointed the gun at her, saying: “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t shoot you?”

Lockhart said she told him: “Because I am the mother of your child.”

Green asked her for a kiss. He put the gun on the car seat and she kissed him so he would leave, she said.

He drove away but immediately called her, saying he was sorry.

Lockhart said a friend convinced her she should talk to police, and she told police she wanted to file charges. Lockhart was told to follow up with the Youngstown Police Department Family Investigative Services Unit.

The police report states that Lockhart said she would go to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital “for medical attention for her head.” It does not say how seriously she was injured. The report states that police attempted to arrest Green for domestic violence at his home on Midlothian Boulevard, “but were unsuccessful.”

PROTECTION

On May 21, 2018, Lockhart told a FISU investigator that she had decided to obtain a domestic violence protection order at the Mahoning County Courthouse, according to FISU records.

She was asked if she wanted to pursue criminal charges, and she said she did not.

She was asked if she felt safe with the suspect having a firearm, and she said yes — “and he has not bothered her since this incident,” FISU records state. The case was closed May 21, 2018.

Lockhart did seek a civil protection order at the courthouse May 21, 2018, against Green, according to Mahoning County Common Pleas Court records. An ex-parte protection order was granted, meaning a magistrate for one of the five common pleas court judges approved a temporary protection order based on just a written petition.

A full protection order hearing was scheduled for June 4 at the courthouse, but Lockhart did not appear for the hearing, and the case was dismissed, according to court records.

ANOTHER REPORT

Youngstown police did have one other police report that involved Green. It was from April 30, 2019, when Green’s mother, Elizabeth Allen, called police to report Green missing.

Both Allen and Green had South Side addresses. Allen said Green had threatened suicide the day before. She said he had not returned after dropping off his daughter to “the child’s mother.”

The name of the child’s mother is redacted from the report. Green was entered into a database as an endangered, missing person.

He was stopped later by Poland police with no charges filed against him. The report does not indicate what day that happened. Green told Poland police he was “OK,” the report states.

Poland police deemed him to be OK and released him. A Youngstow Police Department clerk tried to call Green’s mother to notify her but could not reach her or leave a voicemail because the voicemail was full, the report states.

Green was removed from the missing persons list.

erunyan@vindy.com

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