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Published: Tuesday, 12/18/2001

Defense opens case in central-city killing

Frankie Rayford, one of two Toledo men accused of murdering David Law in the central city, only wanted to scare him, not kill him, his attorney told a jury yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

John Thebes told jurors in his opening statement that his client wanted to fight Mr. Law, who was shot in the head about 8:30 a.m. Aug. 24 while sitting in a car at Prescott and Horton streets.

Mr. Law, of 215 Kevin Place, died several hours later in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.

“He had no intent to kill David Law” when he went up to his car, Mr. Thebes said. “Frankie Rayford never had it his mind to kill anyone. He only wanted to fight that morning.”

Mr. Rayford, 21, of 3377 Mulberry St., is on trial for the murder of Mr. Law.

Lavar Butler, 21, of 1516 Palmwood Ave., a co-defendant, also is charged with murder. The charges against both men include specifications that a gun was used.

Mr. Thebes said Mr. Rayford cooperated with police investigators after the shooting, turning himself in to authorities and giving them the location of his gun as well as Mr. Butler's gun.

Steve Messinger, an assistant county prosecutor, told the jurors in his opening statement that they will hear testimony that will point to Mr. Butler's gun as the one that fired the fatal shot.

However, Mr. Messinger said Mr. Rayford, as an accomplice, consciously aided and abetted in the murder, even encouraging Mr. Butler to shoot the victim. He said revenge and anger, stemming from a fight hours earlier, were the motives for the shooting.

Toledo police Detective James Scott said a woman who was sitting in the car with Mr. Law identified Mr. Butler as one of the armed men who approached the car and shot Mr. Law. He said the woman later identified Mr. Rayford as the other suspect.

Detective Scott said Mr. Rayford, during a videotaped interview in which an attorney was present, told police that his gun, a 9mm semiautomatic, was in a house on Doyle Street, and Mr. Butler's gun, a 38-caliber revolver, was hidden near there in the gutter of a garage. Detective Scott said the bullet removed from the victim in the autopsy was fired from the revolver that Mr. Rayford said Mr. Butler was carrying at the time of the shooting.

The trial will resume today before Judge Charles Wittenberg.

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