The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

August 22, 2013

Jury set in Drummond murder trial, opening arguments today

JEFFERSON — A jury has been seated in the trial of John Drummond Jr., a convicted murderer, who is charged with murdering another man in Ashtabula in 1997.

 Thirteen jurors and two alternates were picked Wednesday after several hours of questioning by attorneys on both sides. Jury makeup is six women and seven men. The alternates are two women.

Drummond, 36, who was removed from death row in 2011 and is awaiting appeal, appeared Wednesday in Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court on charges of aggravated murder and kidnapping. A felonious assault charge was dropped at a pretrial because the statute of limitations expired.

Marie Lane is Drummond’s court-appointed attorney.

Opening statements will start at 8:30 a.m. today. Judge Alfred Mackey will be presiding.

Drummond and five other men were charged in January with the Feb. 8, 1997 kidnapping and murder of Ronald “Maceo” Hull in an Ashtabula apartment over drugs and money. The case had gone cold until two Ashtabula County Sheriff’s detectives re-opened the case and questioned witnesses.

The five others recently pleaded guilty to kidnapping charges. Troy Jones, of Youngstown, and Jawann Evans, of Ashtabula, were both sentenced to three years prison and former Ashtabula residents Eric Weaver and George Church were sentenced to two years in prison.

The sixth man, Stephen E. Boles, of Ashtabula, was sentenced to one year in the Ashtabula County jail. Upon completion of his jail term, he will be placed on basic probation for three years.

Said to be a member of a Youngstown gang, Drummond was convicted in 2004 for fatally shooting a 3-month-old child during a 2003 gang shooting. He was convicted of aggravated murder, attempted murder, two counts of attempting to cause bodily harm with a deadly weapon, firing a gun into a home and having a gun as a convicted felon.

The infant was in a baby swing inside his parent’s home when Drummond opened fire on the home with an assault rifle, killing the baby boy with a bullet to his head, according to WKBN Youngstown news reports.

Drummond was sentenced to death and his convictions were upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court. He was serving his time in the Chillicothe Correctional Institution in Chillicothe, Ohio.

But then, U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi ordered a new trial in 2011 because the trial judge, disgraced Judge Maureen Cronin, unlawfully closed her courtroom during the trial because gang members were intimidating witnesses, according to WKBN news reports.

Cronin was later convicted of taking an $18,000 loan from a Youngstown business owner and was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison, according to WKBN news reports.

Lioi’s ruling for a new trial is being challenged. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Appeals Court heard the arguments in April and no decision has been made.

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