James Moore testifies during the trial of Keshawn Jennings and Antwaine Jones. All three were charged in the shooting death of Keondra Hooks, 1, at the Moody Manor apartments in Toledo. Moore negotiated a plea deal in exchange for testifying against Jennings and Jones.
With his two good friends staring straight at him on the witness stand Friday, a Toledo man said it was the pair who fired on a Moody Manor apartment in August, killing a 1-year-old girl and injuring her 2-year-old sister.
“Did you know there was a shooting at Moody Manor on Aug. 9?” Andy Lastra, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, asked James Moore.
“Yeah,” the 21-year-old Toledoan replied.
“Do you know who did the shooting?” Mr. Lastra asked.
“Keshawn and Antwaine,” Moore said simply.
Keshawn Jennings, 21, of 244 Wasaon St. and Antwaine Jones, 19, of 3145 Cottage Ave. are on trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, each charged with aggravated murder, murder, improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation, attempted murder, and four counts of felonious assault, each with gun specifications. They face life in prison if convicted.
Moore, who was indicted on the same charges, is not on trial because he agreed to testify against his friends in exchange for a three-year prison sentence for manslaughter, he said in court.
Attorneys defending Mr. Jennings and Mr. Jones pounced on that point and on Moore’s admission that for months he lied to every investigator he talked to about the Moody Manor shooting.
“You told them, ‘I am telling the truth. I am honestly telling you the truth,’ and you were lying?” Ronnie Wingate, attorney for Mr. Jennings, asked Moore.
“Yeah,” Moore replied.
Moore testified he was at the North Toledo apartment complex the night of Aug. 9 when another friend received a call saying a a rival gang member was at the complex, which is Manor Boyz territory. He said Mr. Jennings and Mr. Jones were to shoot into an apartment where the rival was supposed to be, but mistakenly shot into the unit where the two little girls were asleep in front of the first-floor glass patio doors.
Killed was Keondra Hooks. Her sister, Leondra, was shot but survived.
Moore claimed he was not carrying a gun that night, that he did not fire one, and that he only drove a van belonging to Mr. Jennings’ grandmother around the block where he picked up Mr. Jennings and Mr. Moore on nearby Vermont Street after he heard the gunfire.
Mr. Wingate asked Moore repeatedly about all the statements he had given investigators since October, almost of all of which Moore admitted were lies.
“The reason you are testifying here today is you don’t want to go to prison?” he asked Moore.
“Yeah,” Moore replied, adding that he’d been to prison for a conviction for carrying a concealed weapon and did not want to go back.
“You’ll do what it takes not to go back to prison for the rest of your life?” Mr. Wingate asked him.
“Yeah,” Moore replied.
Moore, who gave quiet, brief responses to both the prosecutor’s and defense attorney’s questions, told the jury it was difficult for him to testify against Mr. Jennings and Mr. Jones “because I love them.”
“You love them like brothers?” Mr. Lastra asked.
“Yeah,” Moore replied.
The jury also was shown a 30-minute videotaped interview between Toledo Police Det. Kermit Quinn and Mr. Jones, in which Mr. Jones denied any involvement in the shooting.
Much has been made about the clothing the three wore that night, and the jury has seen video of them from cameras at Moody Manor that night. A neighbor and her boyfriend testified to hearing the shots, looking out the window, and seeing someone in black running toward Vermont.
Brandon Lino described two men in “black jogging outfits” that he saw that night. Cassandra Wells, who called 911, said she saw one man running from the complex dressed in black jogging pants and a red and white hat.
The trial, which started Tuesday and is expected to last two weeks, resumes Monday. The jury now consists of seven women and five men after a second female juror was excused Friday for medical reasons and replaced by a male juror.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.
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