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Published: Saturday, 7/23/2011

Convicted killer gets life in prison

Victim’s mother says she isn’t ready to forgive

Owens Owens

For the past year and a half, LaTriesa Alexander has tried to figure out how to move on.

“This is a new world for me. This is a new world. I hate this world,” Ms. Alexander said tearfully in a hushed Lucas County Common Pleas courtroom Friday. “I want my other world, one with all my children in it.”

The man convicted of killing Ms. Alexander’s middle son, Romeo, was then sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.

A jury found Devan Owens, 22, of Airport Highway in Toledo guilty of aggravated murder and aggravated burglary, both with gun specifications, for the Dec. 16, 2009, shooting death of Mr. Alexander, 24. The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about 3 hours before returning a verdict late last week.

Friday, Judge Linda Jennings sentenced Owens to the maximum time on each count. In addition to life in prison without parole for the aggravated murder, the judge imposed additional, consecutive terms of 10 years for the aggravated burglary and three years for the gun specifications.

“You set out that day to intentionally violate the sanctity of someone’s home because that’s what you do,” the judge said, noting that Owens was known as a burglar who carried a gun. “And on Dec. 16, 2009, you lived up to your reputation.

“…Perhaps most chilling is what you said to your brother after,” she added. “You said, ‘I shot someone and it didn’t feel as bad as I thought.”

Mr. Alexander was upstairs at his mother’s home on Rockcress Drive in South Toledo when he heard an intruder kick open the front door. According to testimony at the trial, Mr. Alexander rushed down the stairs and confronted Owens.

The fight between the two men eventually moved outdoors, where Mr. Alexander was shot twice with a handgun, including once in the head. He died at the scene.

Twenty-two witnesses testified during the trial over three days, including several neighbors who saw Owens at the scene. Assistant county prosecutors credited the work of state and local investigators, the cooperation of witnesses, and Mr. Alexander’s family for the swift arrest of Owens and his eventual incarceration.

Before learning Owens’ fate, his attorney, Charles McKinney, asked the judge to consider leniency. Noting his client’s youth and lack of previous incidents of violence, Mr. McKinney pointed out that the state’s evidence showed not a premeditated murder but instead, someone trying to get away.

After the sentence, Mr. McKinney said two families were destroyed Dec. 16, 2009.

“This is a double tragedy,” he said. “It’s part of a wave of violence that we need to as a community try and stop. … It’s just a sad day all around.”

Friday, Owens asked permission from the judge to turn and face Mr. Alexander’s many family members to offer an apology. Although he claimed he did not pull the trigger that ended the young man’s life, he said he was sorry for his presence at the scene.

“I’m not a violent person. … There are no words to express how sorry I am that this happened,” he said while facing the courtroom full of tearful family members.

Ms. Alexander, who openly cried during Owens’ apology, said later she was not yet ready to forgive.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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