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Published: 6/2/2007

Last defendant gets 7 years for his part in double murder

BY ROBIN ERB
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A complicated double murder case - one in which a car child-safety lock helped lead to a conviction - came to a close yesterday when the second of two defendants was sentenced to prison.

Latrel Brown, 28, of 915 East Bancroft St., who had become a witness for the prosecution in the trial of his former codefendant, was given a seven-year prison sentence by Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge James Jensen.

Though Brown didn't pull the trigger in the Sept. 19 shootings, he brokered a drug transaction between one of the two victims, Juan Ybarra, 24, and Tyrone Johnson, 28. Johnson was given a life sentence Tuesday for two counts of aggravated murder following a week-long trial.

In exchange for Brown's testimony against Johnson and his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped the aggravated murder charge against him. He was sentenced to four years for robbery, with an additional three years for a gun specification.

The second victim, Tammy Cappelletty, 30, was the driver of the Pontiac Bonneville inside which the murders occurred. Ms. Cappelletty and Mr. Ybarra, both of Toledo, had been shot in the head by someone in the rear seat.

Yesterday's sentencing brought to a close an excruciating process for family members on all sides. Afterward, Mrs. Cappelletty's husband, Anthony, said the "last piece of the puzzle, at least as far as the court process," had fallen into place.

"There's no such thing as 'closure,' because there will always be a hole for us," he said. Though he was "satisfied" with the court process, he and others said they would have liked Brown to have received a longer sentence, or more.

"He should have been hung. He was there," said Sue Chase, Ms. Cappelletty's mother.

The double murder near Baker and Locust streets began as a sale of 4 1/2 ounces of powdered cocaine between Johnson and Mr. Ybarra.

During the trial, Johnson's defense attorneys claimed that Brown was the shooter and that Johnson had cowered in the back seat during the murders.

But Johnson earlier told police that he had sat behind the passenger-side seat - critical information because the rear door on that side was child-safety locked and couldn't be opened from inside the car, said John Thebes, Brown's defense attorney.

Witnesses told police the second man fleeing from the rear door on the driver's side was the gunman - statements backed by forensics. That made Johnson the gunman because he was second to emerge from the car, Mr. Thebes said.

Yesterday, he noted that Brown's testimony had put Johnson, a double murderer with a long rap sheet, behind bars.

"There needs to be an acknowledgement that a monster has been taken off the streets, probably because my client testified against him," Mr. Thebes said.

Contact Robin Erb at:

robinerb@theblade.com

or 419-724-6133.



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