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Toledo man sentenced to life for murder

Kevin James also convicted of 2 counts of felonious assault

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Kevin James, 21, has been convicted of murder and felonious assault in a shooting at Gas & Go at Cherry and Bancroft streets.

THE BLADE
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Moments after a jury in Lucas County Common Pleas Court found him guilty today of killing one man and wounding two others, Kevin James was ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison.

James, 21, of 425 Oakland St., was convicted on one count of murder and two counts of felonious assault, each with a gun specification, in the March 16 shooting death of Montrese Moore, 19, at the Gas & Go at Cherry and Bancroft streets. Two other people — Robee Ware, 18, and Creonna Ballard, 19 — were injured.

Judge James Bates sentenced James to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years for the murder count. He then sentenced him to seven years for the shooting of Mr. Ware and five years for the shooting of Ms. Ballard, to run consecutively to each other, and an additional three years for the gun specification.

The sentence means James will first be eligible for parole after serving 30 years in prison.

Assistant County Prosecutor Louis Kountouris said after the verdict the key in the case was a video taken from the gas station’s surveillance system. By viewing that video, investigators identified each person at the scene, and the jury was able to confirm the testimony of witnesses, he said.

“It was the right verdict,” Mr. Kountouris said. “This was among the first times in this courthouse that there was a video of the homicide, and we were able to use that to the fullest effect.”

Before being sentenced, James apologized to the victims and their families. Members of Mr. Moore’s family as well as Mr. Ware declined to comment after the verdict.

The all-female jury deliberated for about three hours before returning a verdict. Fourteen witnesses, including Mr. Ware and Ms. Ballard, testified over two days.

Mr. Ware, who was shot in the abdomen, pointed to James as the shooter. Ms. Ballard was shot in the foot.

During closing arguments earlier today, attorney Frank Simmons questioned the testimony and noted that although a video exists of the incident, the face of the shooter is never visible. He asked jurors to consider inconsistent testimony and said if “things are inconsistent, they can’t be trusted.”

Assistant Prosecutor Tim Braun countered during closing arguments that the witnesses who did come forward to testify were consistent with one fact: that James was the shooter.

Mr. Braun said one witness’ testimony showed it was likely a matter of turf that preceded the shooting. But he reiterated that witnesses said Mr. Moore told James maybe he should leave the area, and it was not an invitation to fight.

“He shot the two men first, he did,” Mr. Braun said, “and then he didn’t hesitate to shoot into a crowd of women.”

Though James originally was charged with three counts of felonious assault, including the shooting of Mr. Moore, Judge Bates dismissed one count just before the start of closing arguments. He explained to the jury that the charge was duplicative in that James faced a murder count for the assault on Mr. Moore.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.

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