YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A guilty verdict Monday in a murder trial has fueled anger for the defendant’s family.
Leonard Savage was convicted of one count of complicity to aggravated murder, three counts of complicity to attempted murder and three counts of complicity to felonious assault.
He avoided the most serious offense against him of aggravated murder, however, because the jury believes he was not the shooter in the killing of Thomas Owens in 2015. The jury believes he was complicit in the crime.
Savage’s family was in the courtroom when the verdict was given, and they insisted that he is not guilty. They had a problem that there were no African Americans in the jury.
“I do believe that just like every other justice system, there are a lot of loopholes that need to be dealt with appropriately so that people who are innocent are not sent to jail for the rest of their lives for crimes they did not commit,” said J.C. Jefferson, cousin of the defendant.
Savage was arrested with two other men, Jawonn Hymes and Jason Heard, accused of firing into a car on the south side of Youngstown.
Last November, police say the three pulled up alongside a car carrying Owens and two others on West Myrtle Avenue and started shooting. Owens was the only one hit.
In a rare legal maneuver, witnesses did not have to testify in person. Instead, they were allowed to enter written statements after prosecutors say they were threatened by Savage’s family on social media.
One of those accused of making threats, Barry Wallace, was sentenced to 30 days in jail on Monday on a probation violation.
Because of the ruling, Savage’s lawyers were not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses.
Savage will be sentenced at a later date. He faces a maximum sentence of life without parole
Hymes and Heard still face trial in the case.