Shortly after Deitrekk Boone took the witness stand Thursday, denying any involvement in the shooting death of a South Toledo gym owner, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Bates pronounced him guilty on all counts.
Judge Bates did not leave the bench to deliberate but announced his verdicts after closing arguments and just as swiftly sentenced the 21-year-old Boone to life in prison for the Nov. 19, 2012, aggravated murder and aggravated robbery of Joseph Lengel, 57. Boone will be eligible for parole after serving more than 41 years in prison.
Prosecutors were pleased with the quick resolution to a case that began with the indictment of Boone and four others in 2012 for the attack on Mr. Lengel outside his CrossFit Intensity Gym on Warehouse Road off Angola Road. While four co-defendants entered guilty pleas and were sentenced last year, Boone’s trial was delayed for nearly a year while he hid out in Houston.
“Flight is not a good thing,” Louis Kountouris, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor who tried the case, said afterward.
He added that he did not think Boone helped his case by taking the stand and trying to explain away the phone calls he’d made from the Lucas County jail in which he tried to get witnesses to lie for him.
“[Judge Bates] was obviously impressed with our evidence. It was pretty overwhelming,” Mr. Kountouris said. “And I think a jury would’ve found the same.”
Boone had waived his right to a jury trial and instead had his case presented to the court.
Key to the state’s case was testimony by Jason Kuhns, a co-defendant now serving 15 years to life in prison, who told the court he drove Boone and Devonte Harris to the Warehouse Road location where they laid in wait behind a Dumpster for a man they were told would be carrying a bag containing drugs and money.
Instead, Mr. Lengel arrived about 5:45 a.m. and was confronted by Boone, who had a 38-caliber handgun, and Harris, who had a shotgun. Kuhns said Boone fired two shots that missed Mr. Lengel, while Harris, who pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and was sentenced to 25 years to life, fired the fatal blast from the shotgun.
Mr. Lengel’s bag contained only an iPad, which Boone later sold for $100.
Before Boone was sentenced, he reiterated his innocence, saying he was sorry for the Lengel family but that he “had nothing to do with this homicide.”
His attorney, Drew Griffith, said afterward that his client was “obviously disappointed and intends to appeal.”
Mr. Lengel’s widow, Diana Lengel, told the court her husband was “a talented man, successful in all he did.” She said he was loved by many. “He made the world a better place,” she said.
His son, Aaron Lengel, thanked Toledo police for their hard work on what would prove to be a challenging, complex case.
Tommie Boone said afterward that he believed in his son’s innocence and was dismayed by the immediate verdict and sentence.
“To me it was like he didn’t really take the time to see all the facts that were presented in the case,” he said.
Judge Bates said afterward that he didn’t need to waste time deliberating after he heard all the evidence and saw all the exhibits presented during the trial.
“Sometimes juries come back in five minutes. Sometimes they come back in five hours, but the evidence was overwhelming, and there was no need to take any additional time to review it,” he said.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.