Former Mooney athlete sentenced in shooting case

YOUNGSTOWN — The second of three young men convicted of improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation on May 17 in the 200 block of East Auburndale Avenue on the South Side got the recommended prison sentence of four to 5 1/2 years in prison. They each also had a gun specification.

Wednesday’s sentencing was for Davontae M. Miller, 19, of Wakefield Avenue, Poland, who his attorney described as a Youngstown Cardinal Mooney graduate who had a football scholarship at the University of Findlay and a 3.2 grade point average in school.

News reports indicate that Miller was a linebacker / defensive back / wide receiver at Mooney during his senior season and announced in April 2022 that he was going to play football at the University of Findlay.

In 10 games for the Cardinals in the fall of 2021, Miller made 148 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception. Offensively, he rushed for 630 yards and had 138 receiving yards. Miller was a first-team All Steel Valley Conference selection in 2021.

During the hearing, Frank Cassese, Miller’s lawyer, told Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that Miller’s charges are “a shame. There was a lot of promise, and a lot of folks who were invested in him.”

Cassese said the case is an example of “Show me your friends, and I will show you your future.” He added, “I think Davontae had all the right things going for him in life. He had opportunities. He had a caring mother who did her best. He has a support system that is here today.”

The courtroom was filled with supporters.

“He made poor choices. I think he let some substance abuse issues take over, along with some bad decision making,” Cassese said. “He did something that I’m sure he will regret for the rest of his life because in the event that the court adopts the sentencing recommendation, at minimum, he is spending four years in prison.”

The prosecution and defense recommended the sentence that Miller received.

“For a 19-year-old kid who has never been in any trouble, that’s really a tough pill to swallow,” Cassese said. “My hope is he takes this opportunity and makes the best of it. As sad as this is, he is very young. He can get out of prison and get on with his life. There is a lot of potential here, judge.”

Miller apologized to the court and to his family, saying he “didn’t set a good example” for his siblings.

Judge Krichbaum said he learned of Miler’s accomplishments through the presentence investigation that was carried out on Miller’s background.

The judge said such stories as Miller’s are “tragic” in that sometimes “people don’t think before they go out and make a wrong choice” and don’t take the time to think “What’s going to happen to my family when I go down?”

Krichbaum added that if someone could stop such actions, surely they would.

“I won’t pretend there is a way to stop it other than get the word out that if you do something like this, you have go to down,” the judge said. “You got to do time.”

Youngstown police were alerted at 11:22 p.m. May 17 that about 30 gunshots had been fired in the area of South Avenue and the 200 block of East Auburndale Avenue.

An officer in the area spotted a Ford Fusion being followed by a Nissan Rogue with no tail lights. Both vehicles turned onto Palmer Avenue. Officers activated lights and siren to pull over the Rogue for not using a turn signal, but the Rogue did not stop.

During a chase, the Rogue hit a tree at Zedaker Street and Cambridge Avenue while making a turn. Four occupants fled the vehicle on foot, one of them holding a firearm. The officer ordered him to drop the gun, but he threw it at the officer, who later captured the man in the back yard of a home at 875 Detroit Ave.

The man, identified as Miller, driver of the car, was wearing plastic gloves. Another officer chased two other men, capturing one of them, William E. Huff, 19, of Marmion Avenue. The two other males continued to run.

Officers took the suspects back to the crash scene and located a handgun in the area where Miller had thrown it at the officer, as well as an AR-15-style rifle next to the car door from which the males fled the Nissan.

A second AR-15-style rifle was found between the front seats in the vehicle and blood was inside the driver side door.

Other officers went to Auburndale Avenue and found that a house in the 200 block had been “shot up, with a plethora of spent pistol and rifle casings laying in the street and sidewalk,” according to the police report.

A witness saw a man get out of a dark-colored truck and white car and open fire. The gunfire was captured on video, police said.

Police learned that a gunshot victim, Tompkins-Miller, brother of Davontae Miller, arrived at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital. Tompkins-Miller admitted he is one of the four who fled from officers, a report states.

Tompkins-Miller got the same sentence as his brother last week. Huff will be sentenced Oct. 3.


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