The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

August 31, 2013

John Drummond Jr. gets at least 20 years in prison for 1997 Ashtabula murder

Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — John Drummond Jr. most likely will spend the rest of his life behind bars. He was sentenced Friday for kidnapping, shooting and killing Ronald “Maceo” Hull on Feb. 9, 1997.

Prosecutors say Drummond, 36, fired the fatal shot in Hull’s neck outside an Ashtabula apartment in an act of retaliation for Hull stealing a friend’s safe containing $10,000.

Earlier this year, Drummond and five other men were indicted in the murder case. The other suspects pleaded guilty to kidnapping charges and were sentenced to time behind bars, but Drummond was identified as the gunman by witnesses, specifically two of the other men.

Drummond never testified at his three-day trial, but before Ashtabula County Common Pleas Judge Alfred Mackey handed down his sentence Friday morning, Drummond spoke up for the first time.

“I didn’t have a fair trial; the jury lost its way some place,” he said. “I didn’t kill Ronald Maceo Hull. I am innocent of these charges.”

Mackey then sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole until after 20 years served behind bars.

Drummond showed no emotion.

The victim’s mother, Ruth Hull, who wept through most of the trial, calmly addressed the court.

She thanked the Ohio Attorney General’s Special Prosecutors Brian Derkert and Paul Scarsella, and  Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Detective Taylor Cleveland for “doing an awesome job.”

She said she waited 16 years for this day, and throughout the years, she never gave up. She thanked her family for their support.

“I am at peace now and I have justice now,” Hull said. “It won’t bring my son back ... but I know he’s in heaven. I couldn’t have done all this without the support of my family.”

Drummond’s attorney, Marie Lane, said her client plans to file an appeal.

Recently, Drummond has had good luck with appeals.

Reportedly a member of a Youngstown gang, Drummond was convicted in 2004 for the murder of an infant in a drive-by shooting in Youngstown in 2003. He opened fire with an assault rifle on a house and the baby was hit in the head with a bullet, according to news reports.

Drummond was sentenced to death, but on Monday, an appeals court ruled he should get a new trial because the trial judge made a mistake.