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Published: Friday, 7/15/2011

Closing arguments Friday in trial for '09 death in South Toledo

Devan Owens Devan Owens
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When Romeo Alexander heard someone kick in the front door of his mother's Rockcress Drive home, he responded in a heroic way and chased the intruder out, a Lucas County assistant prosecutor said this week.

"What do you do when you're a burglar and you were just caught inside a home and the person who caught you is beating on you?" Assistant Prosecutor Michael Bahner questioned. "You pull out the great equalizer, a 9 mm, semi-automatic [handgun], loaded and ready to fire."

After three days of testimony from 22 witnesses, a Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury will hear closing arguments Friday in the trial of Devan Owens.

Mr. Owens, 22, is charged with aggravated murder and aggravated burglary, both with gun specifications for the Dec. 16, 2009, shooting death of Romeo Alexander, 24.

The jury of seven women and five men will begin deciding the case Friday. If convicted, Mr. Owens faces up to life in prison.

The prosecution rested its case Thursday. The defense did not present any witnesses.

On Day One of the trial, witnesses testified that Mr. Alexander was at his mother's home about 11:30 a.m. because of a rash of burglaries in the area. While there, an intruder kicked in the front door.

Several neighbors in the area testified that they heard gunshots and soon saw Mr. Alexander's lifeless body lying on the curb outside his mother's home at 1210 Rockcress Drive. One eyewitness testified that he saw Mr. Owens breaking into the home and then fighting someone he apparently encountered inside.

Testifying Tuesday was Mr. Owens' older, half-brother, who said that the defendant came to his house that morning to pick up a gun he was holding for him and returned later repeatedly saying, "I had to do it."

It was this brother, Justin Owens, defense attorney Charles McKinney pointed the finger at during opening statements.

Calling the defendant the "fall guy" in the situation, Mr. McKinney noted that Justin Owens was "almost the same build and size as his brother." He also noted that other witnesses -- whom he said were "suspects" in the case -- lied to police.

Also included in police testimony was the discovery of a 9-mm handgun under the front passenger seat in the car that Mr. Owens was a passenger in when he was arrested and keys, which were identified as Mr. Owens', discovered near Mr. Alexander's body.

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