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Toledoan guilty in burglary that left nephew dead

Jason Peace admitted in Lucas County Common Pleas Court yesterday to burglarizing a home to steal items - a criminal act that resulted in the death of his nephew who was one of his accomplices.

Peace, 33, of 2038 North Michigan St., pleaded guilty to one count each of burglary and involuntary manslaughter for the Feb. 20 break-in at a Galena Street home that resulted in the shooting death of 21-year-old Christopher Childress by the home-

owner. As part of the plea agreement, the involuntary manslaughter charge was reduced from a first-degree felony to a third-degree felony.

Peace faces up to 13 years in prison when sentenced June 30 by Judge Gene Zmuda.

Authorities said that Cedric Joplin returned from attending a funeral to his home at 811 Galena St. about 8:30 p.m. Feb. 20 to find three men inside. He armed himself and called 911.

Police said he was on the phone with an emergency operator when he fired shots at the men who had come from the upstairs. He struck two of the three men.

The two men who were shot were identified by police as Mr. Childress, 21, and Michael Brown, Jr., 19. Peace was arrested later.

Peace admitted yesterday that the men were looking for drugs along with other items. Authorities said there was no evidence that drugs were in the house and that plants being grown in Mr. Joplin's basement were tomato plants.

Mr. Childress was shot but ran to the corner of Galena and Michigan before collapsing. He was pronounced dead at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.

The single bullet that killed him entered through his back and pierced his lung, according to the Lucas County Coroner's Office.

Brown was also shot and admitted to Toledo Hospital but left without being discharged. Police arrested him days later.

Mr. Joplin, a guard at the Toledo Correctional Institute since 2000, was not charged in the shootings. But Mr. Childress' accomplices were because, according to Ohio law, an involuntary manslaughter charge can be filed if a death occurred as a proximate result of criminal conduct.

Brown, of 2105 North Michigan St., pleaded no contest on June 2 to charges similar to Peace's. Brown will be sentenced June 14 by Judge Denise Ann Dartt.

Peace had a second, unrelated case pending before Judge Zmuda involving an alleged break-in at the vacant Riverside Hospital, 1600 North Superior St. As part of the plea agreement, charges of breaking and entering, vandalism, and possessing criminal tools - all fifth-degree felonies - were dismissed yesterday.

Mr. Childress' mother, who is Peace's sister, attended the plea yesterday. She has declined to comment on the case.

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