The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 23, 2013

6 murder suspects in court

Trial set for four accused of Maceo Hull murder

By SHELLEY TERRY - sterry@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON —  A May 8 trial date has been scheduled in Common Pleas Court for four of six men accused of killing an Ashtabula man in 1997.

Troy Jones and Eric Weaver, both of Youngstown; Jawann Evans of Ashtabula, and John Drummond Jr., who has been incarcerated on an unrelated murder charge since 2004, are all charged with the murder of Ronald “Maceo” Hull, authorities said.

The two other defendants in the murder case, Stephen Boles and George Church, both from Ashtabula, requested to be tried separately. No trial date has been set for them.

Representing the state, Paul Scarsella, a special prosecutor from the Attorney General’s Office, said separate trials may be appropriate.

Common Pleas Judge Alfred Mackey set the trial date, but, at Monday morning’s pretrial, heard arguments on a series of motions from the defendants’ attorneys — seven attorneys for six defendants. Boles has two attorneys. The hearing went on for most of the work day.

All six men have pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the following charges: aggravated murder, with two firearm specifications, kidnapping with two firearm specifications and felonious assault with two firearm specifications, according to court records. All six face life imprisonment.

Police say that on Feb. 8, 1997, the men kidnapped, shot and killed Hull at an Ashtabula apartment on West 38th Street. Money and drugs were the motives, sheriff’s deputies have said.

One of the first motions the judge heard was to dismiss the felony assault charge because of the statute of limitations.

The defense attorneys also asked the court to dismiss the case because of the length of time that has passed since the crime occurred. They questioned sheriff’s office detective, Taylor Cleveland, who worked diligently on the case, about the evidence, specifically about evidence the Ashtabula Police Department lost since the crime occurred in 1997.

Cleveland said a flood at the police department’s evidence room damaged video tapes, photographs and other pieces of evidence, but witnesses are still available to testify in the case.

“We have a crime scene photo from the coroner’s office,” he said.

Evans’ attorney asked Cleveland what happened in the investigation — the pivotal moment — when charges could be filed.

Cleveland said it happened in 2003, when Boles admitted to seeing Hull run around the building.

“And he heard gun shots,” Cleveland said.

Boles did not admit hearing gun shots in 1997, he said.

Mackey did not immediately rule on all the motions.