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The Dec. 29 shooting death of a man inside a crowded North Toledo bar began as a fistfight after the victim grabbed his assailant by the face and pushed him back, according to details released yesterday before a Lucas County judge found the suspect guilty in the slaying.
Granvel Thomas, 22, of 3401 North Ontario St., faces up to 35 years in prison after pleading no contest in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to one count of voluntary manslaughter and two counts of felonious assault in the death of Raymond Garth, also 22.
Judge Stacy Cook accepted the pleas and found Thomas guilty of those charges, each of which carries a gun specification.
Thomas was originally charged with murder. Judge Cook plans to sentence him July 7.
Jeffrey Lingo, assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said Thomas pulled out a 40-caliber handgun during the altercation, which began shortly after 1 a.m. inside Hughley's Lounge on Locust Street.
Although unclear why, Mr. Lingo said Garth "apparently mugged" Thomas by grabbing his face.
"That is a sign of disrespect," Mr. Lingo said.
Things cooled off for about an hour until another fight broke out between the two men, Mr. Lingo said.
Garth struck Thomas twice. As Thomas fell back, he pulled out the handgun and shot in Garth's direction, Mr. Lingo said.
Garth "dropped almost immediately to the floor" after being hit by two shots.
Two shots hit other patrons.
The Lucas County Coroner's Office determined that one bullet struck Garth's right arm and another entered his abdomen, striking his iliac artery and vein. He died of blood loss.
William Harper, 22, was treated at Toledo Hospital and released hours later.
Katherine Hayes, 22, was treated at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center and was released the following day.
"These are difficult situations. We have a shooting at the bar but unfortunately because of the circumstances, only a few people saw what happened," Mr. Lingo said. "We think it's an appropriate resolution."
Several of Garth's family members who were present in Judge Cook's courtroom yesterday declined comment.
Defense attorney Don Cameron said a voluntary manslaughter charge involves an act committed "in a sudden rage," one that may have been provoked.
"I think it reflects the facts as [they] would have come out in a trial," he said. "The evidence was that there was a fight just prior to the shooting."
Thomas told police Garth had threatened him with a gun. But no gun was found on Garth or in the bar, Mr. Lingo said.
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