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Published: Tuesday, 3/23/2010

Witness describes victims as trial opens

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
DeJuan Booker listens during his trial in Common Pleas Court. He is accused of killing Armond Parker on May 1. DeJuan Booker listens during his trial in Common Pleas Court. He is accused of killing Armond Parker on May 1.
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Leo Maidlow II was just about to go to bed around midnight May 1 when he heard a series of gunshots that led him outside his South Toledo home where he found two men -- one shot but breathing, the other dead.

Mr. Maidlow was the first witness to testify in the trial of DeJuan Booker, who is charged with murder with a gun specification and carrying a concealed weapon.

Booker, 30, of 14 Southard Ave., is accused of shooting Armond Parker, 22, in the back of the head, killing him. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

"I yelled, 'Are you OK?'•" Mr. Maidlow testified before a Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury. "One of them sat up … the other didn't move."

During opening statements, assistant prosecutors outlined a night out that involved four men. Among them was Kevin Garrett, 22, and his best friend, Mr. Parker.

The two men met up with a third man that night, Markies Turner, who was an acquaintance of Mr. Garrett. Together, the three went to a convenience store on Airport Highway where Mr. Garrett offered to sell a fourth man some marijuana.

That man was Booker, Assistant County Prosecutor Jevne Meader said.

The four men got into Booker's van to "consummate this drug deal." It was after Booker had driven a distance and stopped the vehicle that Turner pointed a gun at Booker to rob him. After taking too long to respond, Turner hit Booker in the head with the gun, giving him a large gash above his eye, Mr. Meader said.

After the robbery, the men poured out of the van and "seconds later the night exploded," Mr. Meader said.

"When it was over, the defendant got into his van and sped off, leaving Armond Parker dead and Markies Turner on the brink," Mr. Meader told jurors.

Turner, 22, has since entered a plea to aggravated robbery with a gun specification for his actions that night and faces 13 years in prison when sentenced Friday by Judge Stacy Cook. In exchange for his plea, the state dropped murder charges against him for starting the chain of events that led to Mr. Parker's death, Mr. Meader said.

He is expected to testify in the trial.

Defense attorney Ronnie Wingate told jurors he agreed with some of the events as the prosecutor described them. But where they differed was on how the robbery took place.

"There was never any consummation of the drug sale. The defendant asked to see the drugs and a gun was pulled," Mr. Wingate said, adding that Booker had a gun pointed at his head.

Mr. Wingate said his client was then pistol-whipped - causing a wound that required several stitches - after complying with the order to hand over everything he had. He told jurors that if they listen to the evidence, they should conclude that "self-defense is a complete defense for the charges against Mr. Booker."

Two witnesses testified yesterday, including Toledo police Sgt. Philip Cook, who said when emergency crews arrived, Turner was holding a semiautomatic pistol, which was taken from him by a paramedic. The gun was loaded and had jammed, he testified.

Mr. Garrett is also expected to testify during the trial. Mr. Meader acknowledged that Mr. Garrett lied several times while talking to police and had even run from the shooting scene, but added that the witness would also explain to jurors why he reacted as he did.

The case is to resume today before Judge Gary Cook.



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