Less than two months after his cousin was murdered, Telly Hopings, Jr., was arrested for shooting to death Eugene Blackman – a man prosecutors say Mr. Hopings blamed for his cousin's slaying.
Mr. Hopings, 24, of the 1300 block of Palmetto Avenue went on trial Monday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for aggravated murder and murder in the May 8, 2016, death of Mr. Blackman, 36, outside the former Lyric's Lounge, 704 W. Sylvania Ave.
Drew Wood, an assistant county prosecutor, told the jury in his opening statement that after his arrest, Mr. Hopings told Toledo police Mr. Blackman had been “running” with the man who killed his cousin, Ronnie Hopings, on March 16. No arrests were made in the case.
“The dude killed my [expletive] cousin in front of his kids,” Mr. Hopings reportedly told detective William Goodlet. “Had the nerve to come to the hospital after they killed him. That's all I got to say. I [messed] up big time. I won't get to see my son grow up.”
Mr. Wood said Mr. Hopings wanted revenge for his cousin's death. Mr. Hopings told police Mr. Blackman had gone to the hospital the night Ronnie Hopings was shot, “and for the defendant that was enough to end a human life,” he said.
He told the jury they would be seeing surveillance video showing Mr. Blackman talking to a woman near a white sport utility vehicle in the rear of Lyric's Lounge when a man in a white T-shirt walks behind Mr. Blackman and shoots him in the back, firing five times.
“The woman in the SUV panics and drives away. Eugene Blackman is left bleeding on the hard asphalt of a dark alley, surrounded by the shell casings of the bullets used to murder him,” Mr. Wood said. “He would not survive the night.”
A nearby police officer spotted a car leaving the area and followed it, getting into a pursuit that at times reached 99 mph. When the chase ended, Mr. Hopings – in a white T-shirt and dark pants – was apprehended by police with the car keys in his pocket and a gun case in the trunk of that car, Mr. Wood said.
Police would find the gun they believe Mr. Hopings discarded during the chase, and, Mr. Wood said, its serial number matched the number on the gun case from Mr. Hopings' trunk.
Defense attorney Ronnie Wingate warned the jury that the picture prosecutors painted had yet to be proven.
“I would say to you that the state of Ohio and the defense are in agreement as to certain facts. We are in agreement, however, only to the facts, but not to the conclusion,” Mr. Wingate said. “I say that, and I say it in the sense that the court will tell you that you are to keep an open mind until all of the evidence is in and then, and only then, are you to make a decision.”
Mr. Hopings also is charged with tampering with evidence for allegedly discarding the murder weapon and with failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer for leading police on a lengthy chase.
The trial before Judge Gary Cook is to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
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