THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
A jury deciding the fate of a Toledo man charged in two homicides in the city last year deliberated less than three hours Thursday before returning guilty verdicts on every count.
Traquawn Gibson, 19, faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced at 8:30 a.m. Monday by Judge Ruth Ann Franks in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.
After hearing four days of testimony, the jury of five men and five women found Gibson guilty of aggravated murder in the Nov. 18 shooting death of his former girlfriend, CreJonnia “C.J.” Bell, 19, and murder, felonious assault, aggravated robbery, and participating in a criminal gang for an Oct. 18 incident in which Deonte Allen, 19, was robbed and shot to death, and his friend, Limmie Reynolds III, now 21, also was shot but survived.
Family members of the two victims reacted in joy after the verdicts were announced.
In closing arguments Thursday afternoon, Lindsay Navarre, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, had told the jury Gibson was a cold-blooded killer who even declared himself as such on his Facebook page.
“That is a perfect example of how little regard for human life Traquawn Gibson has,” Ms. Navarre said. “The fact that he would so casually declare himself to the world of Facebook as a killer is only further proof of the ice running through that young man’s veins.”
Prosecutors contended Gibson shot Mr. Allen and Mr. Reynolds after attempting to rob them in the service of his gang, the Moody Manor Boyz, while the two were sitting in a car smoking marijuana on Fernwood Avenue.
They further contended Gibson killed Ms. Bell, his longtime girlfriend, because she had broken up with him and knew too much about his gangster lifestyle, including information about his involvement in the Oct. 18 homicide.
Two witnesses testified during the trial that they saw Gibson shoot Ms. Bell multiple times outside a home on West Weber Street where he had been staying. A 9mm semiautomatic, with no bullets left inside, was found by police in a couch in the basement of the residence.
“There is no question Traquawn killed C.J. on Nov. 18 of last year because the evidence is overwhelming,” Ms. Navarre told the jury.
Gibson, who did not take the witness stand, told police after the shooting that he and Ms. Bell were struck by bullets in a drive-by shooting. And, while he was wounded in the leg by a gunshot fired at close range, prosecutors maintained he had shot himself to make it appear he’d been a victim of a drive-by.
Defense attorney Meira Zucker cautioned the jury not to draw conclusions not supported by evidence. A 45-caliber gun was used in the Oct. 18 shooting, she said, while a 9mm was used in the second one.
Mr. Reynolds, who took the stand in the trial, did not identify Gibson in a photo array immediately after the shooting, she said, but picked out Gibson some two months later after he’d been charged with Ms. Bell’s death. And no one testified Ms. Bell even knew anything about the shootings of Mr. Allen and Mr. Reynolds, she said.
“What you heard was two stories — two very separate incidents — and the prosecution trying to create a connection that’s just not there,” Ms. Zucker said.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: email@example.com or 419-213-2134.