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Published: Wednesday, 8/29/2007

Witnesses testify victim shot while fleeing

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Rodriguez Rodriguez
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General Hurst was fleeing his attacker late on New Year's Eve when he was shot at six times, with one of the bullets finding its way through his chest and killing him, witnesses testified yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

During the first full day of testimony in the murder trial of Charles Rodriguez, 22, formerly of the 900 block of Homer Avenue, witnesses described a fight they saw in front of the Dairy Mart, 3380 Lagrange St.

Jordan Baldwin, David Brown, and Vernon Delap, all visiting Toledo that day from neighboring counties, were in parked cars in front of the store when they saw a large man "pummeling" a smaller man, they each testified.

They then saw the smaller of the two men run from the larger man, they told a jury of eight men and six women.

Mr. Delap described how the victim worked his way out of his sweater and began to run. "The big guy started shooting at him," he testified.

Mr. Brown identified Mr. Rodriguez as the gunman.

Mr. Baldwin, during his testimony, said he overheard the aggressor in the fight confront the victim about messing with his girlfriend.

Authorities said Mr. Hurst, 22, was leaving the convenience store shortly after 11:30 p.m. Dec. 31, when he was confronted by a man armed with a gun. The two began fighting, and Mr. Hurst was shot as he tried to run away.

He stumbled to the 200 block of East Pearl Street before collapsing on the street. He was pronounced dead a short time later at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.

He died from a gunshot wound in the chest that went through his heart and a lung, Dr. Cynthia Beisser, a Lucas County deputy coroner, said.

County Assistant Prosecutors Jeff Lingo and Robert Clark also questioned the three men about the weapon used in the shooting.

Mr. Baldwin identified it as a 45-caliber handgun, testimony that was confirmed by Toledo police Detective Terry Cousino, a member of the department's scientific investigations unit who collected evidence at the scene.

Defense attorney Don Cameron questioned Dr. Beisser about the toxicology report done on the victim.

Mr. Hurst's blood contained cocaine and alcohol, she said. However, Dr. Beisser said his level of intoxication would not have made him unaware of his injuries.

The trial will continue today, with Judge Ruth Ann Franks presiding.



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