Youngstown murderer seeks fewer gun charges

YOUNGSTOWN — The attorney for the man convicted of murder in the Sept. 29, 2022, shooting death of Jacob Moore, 21, on New York Avenue on the city’s North Side, is urging a judge to sentence him on only one of two gun specifications, which could affect the length of his prison term that is between 15 years and life.

A jury found Mekhi Venable, 20, guilty last month of murder and two gun specifications. Venable’s attorney, John Juhasz, said the sentence for the murder is “straightforward and inflexible.” It is 15 years to life in prison.

But, Juhasz argues the U.S. Constitution and Ohio law dictate that Venable should be sentenced to only one of the two gun specifications.

One is a three-year gun specification; the other a five-year that’s “sometimes called a drive-by specification,” Juhasz stated in a filing this week in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Mahoning County prosecutors do not appear to have filed a sentencing memorandum in the case yet. Venable is scheduled for sentencing at 10:30 a.m. Thursday before Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge Maureen Sweeney.

Trial testimony indicated that Venable shot Moore during an argument that began before they met up on New York Avenue. Venable, Moore and several other people went to Venable’s home on Logan Avenue, where they talked about a conflict over money and marijuana, a woman who was there testified.

Later, Moore, the two other men, and the woman were on New York Avenue, and Venable was “not supposed to be” there, but he was, she said.

She said Venable’s car pulled up, “Words got exchanged between them. After that, they pretty much agreed to fight,” she said of Moore and Venable.

She said everyone agreed to put their guns down and fight. Moore gave his gun to another man with him and went over to Venable’s car and waited for Venable to get out of the car. He didn’t get out and “pretty much he pulls out his gun and shot him,” she said of Venable.

In opening statements in the trial, Juhasz said the jurors would hear a different story also during the trial — that Moore and the others had weapons and Venable was in his car, but Moore “didn’t lay down his weapon, and (Moore) was coming at the car, not with the (pistol) laid aside but with (a pistol) in his hand and that he pointed it at Mekhi Venable telling him that he was going to kill him.”

Juhasz said Venable, “in those seconds, perhaps milliseconds, thinking he would be shot dead, reached down in the car, pulled out a gun and shot Jacob, not to kill him but to keep himself from being killed.”

Juhasz’s sentencing memorandum noted Venable has a child and had a job at the time of the killing. He said Venable was on electronically monitored house arrest as a condition of bail during the months before his trial, and Venable appeared for all hearings. He has no previous criminal record, Juhasz said.

Juhasz cited the double-jeopardy guarantee in the due process clause in the U.S. Constitution that guarantees no person “be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” The double-jeopardy guarantee provides that a defendant does not suffer “multiple punishments for the same offense or conduct,” Juhasz stated.

He stated Venable was accused of having a firearm in his possession and using it in commission of the killing. The second gun specification accuses Venable of knowingly causing or attempting to cause the death of or physical harm to another person “and that it was committed by discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle,” Juhasz stated.

Venable’s firing of the gun in the three-year gun specification is “in essence a lesser-included specification of the 5-year specification, with the addition being that the firearm was discharged from a motor vehicle,” Juhasz argued.

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


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