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Published: Wednesday, 8/18/2004

Co-defendant killed Toledoan, teen says

Antuan L. Rayford testified yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court that Lamar J. Porter shot and killed a Toledo man during a robbery at a central-city crack house.

Young Rayford, 17, of 222 East Weber St. said Mr. Porter and William Thomas had joined in a plan that young Rayford hatched to rob Ronald Bryant while they were selling drugs at 2425 Putnam St.

However, he told the jury that it was Mr. Porter who assaulted and shot the victim. He is charged with aggravated murder and aggravated assault.

Mr. Bryant, 52, of Pinewood Avenue was shot about 4:30 a.m. on Feb. 2 in the right shoulder and back of the neck in an upstairs bedroom of the house.

Young Rayford and young Thomas, also 17, are charged with involuntary manslaughter and aggravated robbery for their roles in the crime. They were certified in Juvenile Court to stand trial as adults.

Mr. Porter, 19, of 2465 Warren St. struck the victim repeatedly in the head with a gun, then used the weapon to shoot him, young Rayford told the jury. He said he had bought the 9mm handgun in the weeks before the shooting for protection but had given it to young Thomas, who handed it to Mr. Porter before the shooting.

Young Rayford testified he and his co-defendants fled on foot and he discarded the gun in pieces in sewers near his home.

In cross-examination, John Thebes, Mr. Porter's attorney, asked young Rayford numerous questions about discrepancies in his testimony and statements he made to police in the weeks after the murder.

"You're the one who shot Mr. Bryant. Isn't that true?" asked Mr. Thebes, to which the witness replied: "No sir."

Young Rayford told the jury that he initially lied to investigators but eventually told the truth in subsequent interviews.

Young Thomas of 931 Islington Ave. is expected to testify when the trial resumes today. The case is being heard by Judge James Jensen.

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