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Published: Friday, 5/30/2014 - Updated: 1 year ago

Boyfriend faces life after plea of no contest in fatal shooting

Graves listens to Judge Stacy Cook during the plea. Graves listens to Judge Stacy Cook during the plea.
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Dimitrias Graves showed no emotion as a prosecutor recounted Thursday how the Toledo man inadvertently shot his girlfriend, Mariah Wells, to death one evening last fall.

Graves, 27, of 658 Spring St. pleaded no contest to murder for the Oct. 23 death of Ms. Wells, 22, of Newark, Ohio. He faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years when he is sentenced June 17 by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Stacy Cook.

Andrew Lastra, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said Graves’ bullets were not intended for Ms. Wells.

“It’s sad — just incredibly sad — that Mariah Wells, who I believe [Graves] never saw in his line of fire, was shot and died instantly,” Mr. Lastra said after the hearing.

He told the court that Graves and Ms. Wells had driven up to Toledo from Newark and gone to his mother’s house on Spring Street because his younger brother, Dewayne Lewis, had been missing for two days.

Three young women — Keeana King, Erica Elmore, and Dominique Hopkins — also had come to the house concerning the disappearance when an argument broke out, Mr. Lastra said. As the argument became more heated, he said, the women were pushed out the door and Ms. Wells “was in that mix of people trying to get” Graves and his mother to let the three women leave.

Ms. Wells followed the women out toward their car, and soon after, Mr. Lastra said, Graves — who appeared to have been intoxicated — came out and made a statement to the effect that if they weren’t going to leave he would give them a reason to leave.

Graves, he said, was angry about the argument and lack of information about his brother’s whereabouts.

“He then went back into the house, reappeared almost immediately with a handgun,” Mr. Lastra said. “The evidence would have established that the defendant then proceeded to fire off a number of rounds. Shell casings on the porch would indicate seven shots.”

One of those shots struck Ms. Wells in the upper left back, piercing her lungs, he said. Ms. Elmore’s right eye also was grazed by a bullet as she was getting into the car.

As part of the plea agreement with Graves, Mr. Lastra said he would ask the court to dismiss three counts of felonious assault, one count of improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation, and five firearms specifications. Two counts of endangering children from a separate case also are to be dismissed at sentencing, he said.

Mr. Lastra said the plea agreement was reached after “a great deal of discussion” with Ms. Wells’ family members and Toledo Police Det. Tonya Rider, the lead investigator on the case.

Defense attorney Don Cameron told the court Graves wanted to immediately proceed to sentencing “because there is but one sentence the court can give,” but Graves changed his mind when informed that a pre-sentence report prepared by the probation department could be useful when he comes before the Ohio Parole Board in 15 years.

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

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