The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

May 18, 2013

Fifth man in Ashtabula murder case pleads guilty to kidnapping

By SHELLEY TERRY - sterry@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — Now it’s five out of six.

Eric Weaver, one of six men police say had a hand in a 1997 murder, had originally been charged with the aggravated murder and kidnapping of Ronald “Maceo” Hull. But, with a jury trial on tap this week, Weaver pleaded guilty to kidnapping, a second-degree felony, in exchange for having the murder charges dropped, according to court records.

A sentencing date has been set for July, court records show.

Four of his co-defendants: Troy Jones of Youngstown, and Stephen Boles, George Church and Jawann Evans, all of Ashtabula, also had originally been charged with aggravated murder and kidnapping, and they chose to plead guilty to the kidnapping charge with two firearm specifications, also second-degree felonies, court records show.

That leaves only one defendant, John Drummond Jr., to go to trial. Drummond has been incarcerated on an unrelated murder charge since 2004, records show.

Drummond is charged with the murder and kidnapping in the Hull case. A hearing has been set for June 10 in Ashtabula County     Common    Pleas

Judge Albert Mackey’s court to discuss the status of Drummond’s trial.

Paul Scarsella, a special prosecutor from the Attorney General’s Office, is trying the cases for the state.

At their preliminary hearings, all six men 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 faced life imprisonment.

At the pretrial three weeks ago, defense attorneys asked for the felonious assault charges to be dropped because of the statute of limitations. After taking the matter under consideration, Mackey dropped those charges.

Police contend 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.