Judge denies bond reduction in murder case

YOUNGSTOWN — Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge Maureen Sweeney on Wednesday denied a motion to have Elijah J. May’s bond reduced from $100,000 to $50,000.

May, 20, is charged with murder, voluntary manslaughter, felonious assault and several other charges in the April 11 killing of Ray’Mon Sims, 22, on the North Side.

May’s attorney, Michael Kivlighan, said the shooting happened at May’s house and was a “two-day ordeal.” On the first day, two cars pulled up with 10 men who tried to get May to leave his house to fight, “He refused to come out of the house.”

The next day, men came back again and yelled at May to come outside. “Eventually he comes out of his house,” Kivlighan said.

May had a firearm, but he put it down and “agrees to have a fist fight,” Kivlighan said. “But instead of a fist fight, they attack him, they pistol whip him, and as he is attempting to get his own gun back at his own house, they fire first at him, which is confirmed by one of the neighbors.”

After a lengthy investigation, police charged May “with just voluntary manslaughter. It wasn’t until later he was charged with everything under the sun,” Kivlighan said.

May was 19 years old, and he had no prior felony offenses of violence, Kivlighan said. May is claiming self-defense, and he gave a full statement to police about what occurred. He has also been set for trial three times, but the trial got “bumped” by other trials.

“So he has been sitting, waiting for his self-defense trial for a year and an entire month,” Kivlighan said.

Pat Fening, county assistant prosecutor, said he felt the $100,000 bond is fair for murder cases, adding the amount of the bond was “generous to begin with.”

“The bond reduction is overruled,” Sweeney said.


Youngstown police initially charged May in Youngstown Municipal Court with voluntary manslaughter and having weapons while not allowed. But the facts of the case made it appropriate for May to face a murder charge, Mike Yacovone, former assistant county prosecutor, said last year when May was indicted.

If May is convicted of the murder charge and an attached gun specification, he could get 18-years-to-life in prison. Other charges he faces could add more prison time.

May is alleged to have fired an AR-15 rifle 18 times outside his home on Tod Lane toward the car in which Sims and another man were traveling after a physical fight among the men. Multiple neighbors witnessed the fighting and fled as the gunfire erupted, one witness told The Vindicator.

Several homes on the opposite side of Tod Lane from the fight were hit by stray bullets, according to police reports. None of the neighbors were injured.

Shots also were fired at May, but prosecutors do not believe this is a self-defense case, Yacovone said. A Youngstown police report stated that the incident began with 911 calls for a fight with gunfire. It added that “multiple people were fighting, and people were shooting.”

One woman whose home was in the middle of the shooting called it a “gunfight in front of her residence.”

Sims collapsed in the 400 block of Crandall Avenue after being shot on Tod Lane, police said. Sims and another man were in a car at the time of the gunfire. They drove several blocks away from Tod Lane before their car went through a yard and hit the front porch of a home on Alameda Avenue.

Sims and the other man got out and went to the next street over — Crandall Avenue — on foot, where Sims collapsed. Ambulance workers gave him medical care, but Sims was pronounced dead at nearby St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital.

The man with Sims is the victim in at least one of the charges.

Have an interesting story? Contact Ed Runyan by email at erunyan@vindy.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribToday.


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