Gang member on trial for 1997 murder

John Drummond

A former Youngstown gang member and convicted murderer will stand trial Wednesday for murdering a man in Ashtabula.

Lincoln Knolls Crips convicted murderer John Drummond, who was removed from death row in 2011 and is awaiting appeal, is scheduled to stand trial Wednesday in Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court on charges of aggravated murder and kidnapping. A felonious assault charge was dropped because the statute of limitations expired.

Drummond and five others were charged in January with the Feb. 8, 1997 kidnapping and murder of Ronald Hull in an Ashtabula apartment on West 38th Street over drugs and money.

All five 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, Jawann Evans, of Ashtabula, was sentenced to three years probation.

Drummond was convicted in 2004 for fatally shooting 3-month-old Jiyen Dent Jr. during a March 24, 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 felon.

Dent was in a swing inside his parent’s home when Drummond opened fire on the home with an assault rifle, killing Dent with a bullet to his head.

He was sentenced to death and his convictions were upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court. 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.

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

There were altercations between spectators during the trial and Cronin ordered everyone leave the entire building while James “Cricket” Rozenbald testified because he was scared of retaliation.

Lioi’s ruling is being challenged. Arguments were heard by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Appeals Court in April and no decision has been made.

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