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Published: Friday, 3/25/2005

Man guilty in Old West End killing

A Toledo man was found guilty last night in the shooting death of Robert Badgett during a quarrel outside the Old West End home of his 15-year-old nephew.

Lamonte Hopings, 28, appeared calm and showed no emotion as Judge Ruth Ann Franks read the jury's verdicts in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. The jury deliberated for about four hours before convicting Hopings on one count of murder and a specification that he used a gun in the crime.

Family members of the defendant, including his mother, appeared saddened when the decisions were announced, but otherwise did not react. The victim's family was not present in the courtroom for the verdicts.

Badgett, 24, was shot once in the head May 19 after he went to the defendant's duplex at 3103 Parkwood Ave., to defend his nephew, Rodshode Sutton, 15, who exchanged words earlier with Hopings and others who had gathered for a family cookout.

Rodshode, who lived in the upper unit with his mother and her boyfriend, made the comments to Hopings in reaction to a burglary several hours earlier, and was told by his mother to apologize.

He felt that he didn't owe Hopings an apology and went to his uncle's nearby home at 554 West Central Ave. to vent his frustrations. Badgett went with his nephew to the duplex to discuss the situation.

The jury heard testimony from prosecution witnesses that a quarrel ensued. When the defendant's brother, Lawrence Hopings, tussled with Badgett, Hopings retrieved a 12-gauge shotgun from inside the home and fired into the victim as he retreated.

Hopings testified and delivered a different account of the events leading to the shooting. He claimed he shot Badgett in self-defense after he made threats to him and others in the home. He said he fired the shotgun as Badgett was pulling a handgun from his waist area.

While no handgun was found on the victim, Hopings' aunt, Sherry Dotson, testified that she saw Badgett's wife take a package from her dying husband.

Hopings' attorney, Mark Jacobs, said he was disappointed with the outcome. "This was a difficult situation. A man lost his life. We thought the self-defense would carry the day," he said.

Hopings faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison and an additional three years for the gun specification. He will be eligible for parole in 18 years.

Timothy Braun, an assistant prosecutor, said he was not surprised that the jury rejected the self-defense claim raised by Hopings. "You can't aggressively approach someone, point a loaded weapon at them, shoot them in the head, then claim self defense," Mr. Braun said.

The jury could have found Hopings guilty of the more serious offense of aggravated murder, but Mr. Braun said the panel did not find that he committed the crime with calculation and design.



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