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In handing down life sentences Tuesday for two men involved in the robbery and murder of a South Toledo gym owner, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Bates said the scheme was an ill-fated one.
“I hate to use the expression you might have been ‘the brains’ behind this particular robbery because I don’t think there was a lot of brains being utilized — selecting the wrong person that was supposed to be robbed, then murdering the person as a result of the robbery — 2 co-defendants but you kind of organized it,” he told Jason Kuhns. “You were there. Two other people actually physically accosted the victim. Both of them had guns. You knew they had guns, and the foreseeability of someone being killed was quite evident.”
Kuhns, 32, of 1416 Beecham St. pleaded guilty April 23 to murder in the Nov. 19 shooting death of Joseph Lengel, Jr., 57, outside CrossFit Intensity Gym in South Toledo. Judge Bates said Kuhns would be eligible for parole after serving 15 years in prison.
Judge Bates also sentenced Devonte Harris, 19, of 1326 Gordon St. to life in prison with eligibility for parole after 25 years.
Harris, who pleaded guilty April 26 to aggravated murder in the case, responded “no” when asked whether he wished to make a statement.
His attorney, Donald Cameron, reminded the court that his client was much younger than the other men involved in the foiled robbery.
He said Harris was not involved in the planning, and that it was “more of a spontaneous thing” for him that went way beyond what Harris ever could have imagined.
Kuhns told the court he was “deeply sorry,” adding, “I regret not being able to stop them.”
Diana Lengel told the court she and her late husband would have celebrated their first wedding anniversary Tuesday.
Instead, she said, “I once am again reminded of the death of my husband, my best friend, my protector, my soul mate. Joe’s family — his children, grandchildren, and friends — are also mourning the loss of this wonderful, strong, but kind and gentle man.”
Already in prison are two co-defendants who helped plan the attack: Matthew Managhan, 34, of 3417 Anderson Pkwy. and Chad D. Brown, 35, of 839 Walbridge Ave.
Each was sentenced April 30 to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated robbery and involuntary manslaughter in the commission of felonious assault with a gun specification.
The fifth suspect in the case — Deitrekk Boone, 19, of 1416 Beecham St. — remains at large. Investigators say he took part in the robbery armed with a handgun.
Judge Bates said after sentencing Harris that while it was not his practice to do so, he felt compelled to recognize Toledo police for conducting a “remarkable investigation.”
“Had a number of things not occurred, had a different detective been assigned to this case, it potentially could have gone unsolved,” the judge said. “My compliments to the Toledo Police Department for their investigation as it relates to this case.”
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.