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Brothers sentenced in fatal 2016 stabbing

Victim’s family upset about length

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    Elijah Clark, left, wiping away a tear while reading a state- ment during his sentencing, and his brother, Maurice, right, with his attorney, Brad Hubbell, were convicted in the June fatal stabbing of Karl Avery, Jr., at Maumee Bay State Park.

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    SLUG: CTY clark20p 3/20/2017 The Blade/ Amy E. Voigt Toledo, OH CAPTION: and his brother, Maurice, right, with his attorney, Brad Hubbell, left, listens to his sentence for involuntary manslaughter and two counts of felonious assault for fatally stabbing Karl Avery Jr. and non-fatally stabbing Leon Oldham and Jacob Lickert at Maumee Bay State Park last June in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on March 20, 2017.

    THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
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    Marjorie Bickford, mother of Karl Avery, Jr., reacts to the sentences the Clark brothers received in the death of her son at Maumee Bay State Park last June.

    THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
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Though the East Toledo man who stabbed Karl Avery, Jr., to death before a fireworks show last year at Maumee Bay State Park will spend more than 27 years behind bars, the victim’s relatives were upset with the sentence Monday.

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gary Cook sentenced Maurice Clark, 23, of the 1400 block of Kedron Street to a total of 25 years for involuntary manslaughter and two counts of felonious assault, then tacked on 751 days for violating his parole from a prior conviction.

Avery’s mother and other relatives cried out as they left the courtroom and the courthouse, saying the 11 years for involuntary manslaughter was not enough. It is the maximum sentence allowed by law for the first-degree felony.

“This is why people are out here doing street justice, to be honest,” said Angel Morris, Avery’s aunt. “We’re not getting justice. That’s why everybody is killing each other. What is 11 years? I can take someone’s life and that’s all I get?”

Judge Cook imposed the 25-year sentence agreed upon between prosecutors and defense attorney Brad Hubbell when Clark entered Alford pleas March 8 and was found guilty.

Clark made no statement in court and showed no emotion as he was sentenced.

“I believe it’s an understatement to say this was a senseless act,” Judge Cook said. “People had gone to the park to enjoy the fireworks and, for whatever reason, a senseless verbal disagreement erupts into a fight and the use of a weapon and the loss of a life. There’s really not much any court can ever say about how senseless this whole situation is.”

Separately, Judge Cook sentenced Clark’s brother, Elijah Clark, 18, of the 1700 block of Lagrange Street to four years in prison. Elijah entered Alford pleas Jan. 25 and was found guilty of two counts of complicity to felonious assault.

Prosecutors said the brothers had gone to Maumee Bay for the fireworks show June 11 when Maurice Clark got into an verbal argument with Avery and Avery’s uncle, Leon Oldham. The argument escalated to a shoving match when Maurice Clark pulled out a knife and stabbed Avery in the chest and cut Mr. Oldham in the neck.

Mr. Oldham ran off and encountered Jacob Lickert, who he’d never met but who tried to help him and calm him down. Brian Boos, an assistant county prosecutor, said Maurice “recruited” his brother to follow Mr. Oldham and fight Mr. Oldham and Mr. Lickert.

“When the two approached Oldham and Lickert, Maurice Clark then stabbed Lickert, who was merely rendering aid, and he was stabbed in the arm,” Mr. Boos said at a prior hearing.

After the melee, Maurice Clark disposed of the knife he used to stab the three victims by throwing it into the Maumee River, Mr. Boos said.

Before his sentencing, Elijah Clark apologized repeatedly to the victims’ families, his own family, and to the court.

“I want it to be known I went to Maumee Bay to watch fireworks with friends and family like everybody else,” he said. “If I would’ve known what the future had in store, I promise I would have never went.”

Defense attorney James Popil said Maurice Clark had just gotten out of prison when Elijah made the mistake of going to the fireworks show with him. He asked the court for a suspended prison sentence, saying Elijah needed drug and alcohol treatment as well as anger management classes. Elijah cooperated with the investigation and was remorseful, he said.

“He could not envision what happened here,” he said.

Mr. Boos said afterward that the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office had done a commendable job of sorting out a chaotic situation on the night of the stabbing.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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