The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 5, 2014

Robbery gone bad ... really bad

Two linked to double-homicide appear in court

Staff Writer

ASHTABULA — Two people believed to be linked to last week’s triple shooting on Norman Avenue appeared in Ashtabula Municipal Court on Tuesday afternoon.

Lewis E. Arnold, 24, of Amesbury Avenue in Cleveland, has been charged with complicity with aggravated robbery in the Jan. 27 crime that left two people dead and another critically wounded. More charges are possible after the Ashtabula County grand jury reviews facts in the case, said Ashtabula Solicitor Michael Franklin.

Also appearing in court was Brianna Bernard, 19, of Nathan Avenue in Ashtabula, who has been charged in connection with another crime, but is a “person of specific interest” in the Norman Avenue case, Franklin said.

After the hearings, Franklin said the shootings were the result of an intended robbery that went tragically astray.

“The (robbers) went to the wrong house and shot up three innocent people,” Franklin said. “(The victims) had no involvement in any criminal activity.”

Lydia Aviles Mook-Colon, 43, and her son Xavier Mook-Colon, 20, died from gunshot wounds, authorities. Xavier was pronounced dead at the scene, while his mother died hours later at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. Another son, Benny Alexander Mook-Colon, 23, is in critical condition, according to reports.

At the start of the week, the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force announced it was looking for Arnold and another suspect, Marcus Lashley, 21, in connection with the crime. Arnold was arrested Monday afternoon at a Woodman Avenue apartment. Lashley is still at large and believed to be hiding in Cleveland, authorities said.

Arnold appeared in court before visiting Judge Jon Field amid heavy security. Arnold, handcuffed and shackled at the ankles, told Field he planned to hire an attorney. Franklin asked for, and received, a $500,000 cash/surety bond on the charge. Should Arnold make bond, he must remain under house arrest and wear an electronic monitoring device, Field said.

While awaiting the start of his hearing, Arnold acknowledged people in the audience, briefly smiling at one point. He shook his head and chuckled when photographers began taking his picture.

After the hearing, Franklin said Arnold had a role in arranging the botched robbery. “We’re alleging (Arnold) solicited another person or persons to commit a robbery, and that intended robbery resulted in the shooting deaths at Norman Avenue,” he said.

Following Arnold to the podium was Bernard, who has been charged with two counts of complicity to aggravated murder stemming from a Nov. 25 shooting on Hiawatha Avenue that left two men — one from Cleveland, the other from Painesville — dead. The case involving Bernard was filed on Monday, according to court records.

Bernard, who tried to shield her face from photographers, told Field she would hire her own attorney.

Franklin argued for a $400,000 bond in Bernard’s case, saying she has “knowingly and willingly” associated with “violent felons,” has failed to appear for court hearings in the past and is a “person of specific interest” in the Norman Avenue case. Field set bond at $1 million on the complicity charges, drawing gasps from some people in the audience. Should Bernard post bond, she too is subject to house arrest and electronic monitoring, Field said.

Preliminary hearings will be scheduled for Arnold and Bernard, Field said.

Afterwards, Franklin said police believe Bernard drove the shooter to and from the Hiawatha address in November, and may have done the same in the Norman Avenue situation last week.

On Monday, police said they are holding a local man on charges unrelated to last week’s killings. Taquan Mathers, described as “person of interest” by Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell, was one of many rounded up during a sweep late last week.

“The entire matter remains under investigation,” Franklin said Tuesday.