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Assault victim tells jurors she recognized her assailant

Davelle Heath, right, talks to one of his attorneys, Patrick Moro, during Heath’s attempted murder trial Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

YOUNGSTOWN — Katrina Turner testified Tuesday she recognized Davelle Heath when he walked up to her outside of her East Side home about 10:30 p.m. March 21, 2022, and he told her his name.

They had a “casual conversation” for a short time. But it wasn’t long after they started talking that she fell down, not aware she had been shot in the head, she testified Tuesday during Heath’s attempted murder trial before Judge Anthony D’Apolito in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. The trial resumes this morning.

“I didn’t hear no gunshot or anything. I just remember falling toward the ground and hitting the ground,” she said.

Heath stood looking at her momentarily, then left in a hurry, she said.

Though the gunshot badly damaged her skull, she got to her feet and walked to the house, where she collapsed on the floor.

When an officer got there, “I tried to communicate to tell him who it was, but I couldn’t speak, and I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I just used my hand for something to write with. I wrote Davelle Heath, and I wrote down Barbara Heath, 33 N. Truesdale, and I wrote down her phone number,” she said.

When Katherine Jones, county assistant prosecutor, asked her why she wanted to write this down for officers, Turner said, “In case I died, they would know where to look.”

Jones asked if she thought she was going to die, and Turner said “I wasn’t sure.”

A short time later, Turner was being cross-examined by defense attorney Patrick Moro, who asked with surprise if Turner could recall the name and phone number of Davelle Heath’s grandmother, Barbara Heath, even though Turner had not spoken to Barbara Heath for a while.

“Yes,” Turner said.

“Why Barbara Heath’s address?” Moro asked.

“Because that was the number I could think of because I don’t know any other family phone numbers,” she said.

Barbara Heath lived about 10 houses away from Turner on Truesdale Avenue, Turner said.

Turner, a transgender female, dated Barbara Heath from 1994 to about 2006, Turner testified. At one point, when Davelle Heath was about 9 years old, he and his mother moved in with Turner. Davelle was about 12 years old when he and his mother moved out.

She saw Davelle throughout his youth because he participated in marching activities for children that Turner organized. The last time she saw Davelle prior to the shooting was about four years ago when he was at his mother’s home in Boardman, and Turner was there to work on a computer, Turner said.

Davelle looked similar four years ago as he did the night she was shot except that his beard was longer, Turner said.

Youngstown police Detective Chad Zubal testified Tuesday mostly about going to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, where he spoke with Turner.

Turner was not able to talk to Zubal, but she motioned to him that she wanted to write something down.

Under questioning by county assistant prosecutor Steve Maszczak, Zubal said Turner wrote down “Davelle Heath” on a notepad Zubal provided. “I said ‘I don’t understand. What do you mean?’ ” Zubal testified.

Turner “was very clear that the person who shot her was Davelle Heath,” Zubal said. He did not understand the reference to Davelle Heath because he was not at the scene when Turner had written down similar items with another officer, Zubal said.

Zubal turned over the notes Turner wrote to the lead detective, Jerry Fulmer.

Zubal and Fulmer went back to the hospital March 24, 2022, and recorded an interview with Turner. The thing that stood out was that Davelle Heath “was responsible for the shooting,” Zubal said.

Dakesha Stewart was the first defense witness Tuesday. She is the girlfriend of Davelle Heath’s half sister, Brittany Jackson. She and Jackson spent most of the day March 21, 2022, with Davelle Heath, and Jackson drove him and Stewart back to Kentucky the day after Turner was shot.

On March 21, members of Davelle Heath’s family and Brittany Jackson’s family held a dual birthday party for Davelle Heath and Jackson at the West Side Bowl not far from Jackson’s mother’s house.

After they left the party at about 9:30 p.m., the three of them drove back to Brittany’s mother’s house, and Davelle Heath fell asleep on the couch soon afterward. Stewart said she and Jackson slept on a large air mattress on the floor pushed up against the couch where Davelle Heath was sleeping.

She and Jackson testified that the house has a security system that makes sounds when a door of the house is opened. Several dogs were in the house, and Davelle Heath had no car.

Stewart testified she did not remember hearing any sounds or any indication that Davelle Heath had gotten up from the couch to leave the home that evening. Stewart said Davelle Heath would have had to “walk over” her and Jackson to leave the couch, Stewart said.

When Maszczak asked Stewart whether she “had eyes on Davelle the whole time” that night, she said yes.

When Jackson was asked by Moro whether she heard any doors open that night or dogs barking, she said no.

He asked, “Is it fair to say you would know if Davelle had gotten off the couch?”

“For sure,” Jackson said.

“He would have to step on you, right?”

“Yes,” she said.

erunyan@vindy.com

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