The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

March 21, 2014

Ashtabula shooting suspect arraigned on murder charges

JEFFERSON — Taquan Mathers appeared in court Thursday to face formal murder and attempted murder charges in connection with the Jan. 27 shootings on Norman Avenue in Ashtabula.

Mathers, 22, of Ashtabula, was arraigned in Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court on a total of eight felony charges, including two capital murder charges, aggravated murder, aggravated attempted murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary. All of the charges come with firearm specifications.

A capital murder is any murder that makes the perpetrator eligible for the death penalty.

Mathers appeared in court handcuffed and shackled wearing a white knit cap, a black-and-white-striped jail jumpsuit and orange flip-flops. He was represented by co-counsels, Robert A. Dixon and Ariana Tarighati, who were appointed to his case.

Dixon said his client pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Assistant Attorney General Brian Decker, who is representing the state, asked Judge Alfred Mackey to maintain Mathers’ bail at $1 million. Mackey said Mathers is serving a three-year sentence for violation of community control.

Prosecutors have named Marcus Lashley, 21, of Cleveland, as the codefendant in the case.

Mathers and Lashley are the men they believe were the gunmen in the Norman Avenue home invasion that killed Lydia Aviles Mook-Colon, 43, and her son, Xavier Mook-Colon. Another son, Benny Mook-Colon, 23, remains hospitalized and is recovering from his injuries, according to friends of the family.

All three were shot in the kitchen of their duplex at 2106 Norman Ave., authorities have said. Xavier was pronounced dead at the scene, while his mother died a few hours later while undergoing surgery at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

Shortly thereafter, Mathers was picked up by police as “a person of interest” and was held on unrelated weapon charges. The grand jury indicted him on two counts of having weapons under disability in another case Wednesday, Ashtabula County Prosecutor Nick Iarocci said.

According to law enforcement and prosecutors, on the afternoon of Jan. 27, Mathers and Lashley forced their way into the duplex, committed the crimes and then fled to a waiting vehicle.

Prosecutors are calling 19-year-old Brianna Bernard of Ashtabula a “person of interest” in the Norman Avenue murders, but so far, she’s been indicted on charges of complicity to aggravated murder, with firearm specifications, in connection with the Nov. 25 shooting on Hiawatha Avenue, according to court records.

Prosecutors believe Bernard drove the get-away vehicle in November’s fatal shootings.

Shortly after the Norman Avenue murders, Lashley and Lewis Arnold, 24, of Cleveland, became the No. 1 suspects. They were the subjects of an intensive manhunt by local, state and federal law enforcement.

On Feb. 3, police arrested Arnold at a Woodman Avenue apartment in Ashtabula. He was taken without incident. He has been charged with possession of drugs, and tampering with evidence, both third-degree felonies, according to Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court records.

So far, he has not been charged with any other crime, court records show.

U.S. Marshals arrested Lashley on Feb. 11 in East Cleveland. The Marshals surrounded the home for more than a hour before they were able to get in and arrest Lashley. Authorities also recovered  a .380 caliber handgun at the scene.

Lashley is being held o a $1 million cash or surety or property bond. If he makes bail, he must submit to electronic monitoring.

Ashtabula City Solicitor Michael Franklin has said his office believes the men targeted a duplex on Norman Avenue for a robbery, but ended up going to the wrong unit.

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