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Published: Monday, 9/30/2013

Trial begins for Toledoan accused of murder, robbery

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Defense attorneys for a Toledo man charged with robbing and shooting a man at an East Toledo housing complex said the only witnesses who will testify that Jonathon Johnson pulled the trigger are the two men first arrested for the murder.

Gretchen DeBacker, who is representing Mr. Johnson, told a jury in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Monday that Chaz Jackson and Andrew Goetz “are the two people who have the most to lose,” but she cautioned them to listen to other witnesses’ versions of events that night.

“There were other people that were out in the Vill that night,” she said, referring to the nickname for Ravine Park Village.

“There were other people who witnessed what happened, and those people could be described as disinterested witnesses. These people were never once charged with this killing.”

Mr. Johnson, 23, of 1657 Vance St., is charged with aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery, felonious assault, and carrying a concealed weapon in the Oct. 5, 2012, shooting death of Jonathan Morris, 22.

Andy Lastra, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said in his opening statements that Mr. Jackson, 28, of 1158 Clark St., and Mr. Goetz, 29, of 614 Earl St., were present when Mr. Morris was shot, but that it was Mr. Johnson who killed him.

The three had been drinking at the Bottom Line bar with other friends early that morning when a fight broke out, and they went back to Mr. Goetz’s house.

There, he said, Mr. Goetz realized someone had stolen from his pocket some powder cocaine and $35 in cash he had received from an earlier drug sale.

Mr. Lastra said Mr. Goetz believed it was Mr. Morris who picked his pocket at the bar, and the trio went to Ravine Park Village to confront him.

He told the jury Mr. Johnson gave Mr. Goetz a handgun, which he used to hit Mr. Morris on the head. Mr. Lastra further said the evidence will show Mr. Goetz and Mr. Jackson then took off Mr. Morris’s sweatpants and left him on the ground in the parking lot, where Mr. Johnson shot him.

In June, prosecutors made a deal with Mr. Jackson and Mr. Goetz under which they are to plead guilty to robbery in exchange for their testimony against Mr. Johnson.

The trial is to resume at 11 a.m. today in Judge Frederick McDonald’s courtroom.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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