Jury deliberates in carryout shooting case
Mar 22, 2012 (The Blade - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Video surveillance shown in Lucas County Common Pleas Court depicted two armed men robbing a North Toledo carryout in November.
One of the men was Lamar Allen, who was shot and killed by the clerk working that day at Express Carryout. It is now up to a jury of six men and six women to determine if Joseph Hunter was his accomplice.
A total of 13 witnesses -- including one for the defense -- testified over three days during Hunter's trial. He is charged with aggravated robbery, felonious assault, attempted murder, and involuntary manslaughter, each with gun specifications.
The jury deliberated for about two hours Thursday without reaching a verdict. They will resume deliberations Friday.
During closing arguments, Assistant Prosecutor Mark Herr told jurors that although he did not pull the trigger that ended Allen's life, Hunter was accountable because it was his criminal actions that led to the death.
"You go and do something dangerous and someone is killed, you're responsible. You go in [a store] with a mask and gloves and guns and someone gets shot, you're responsible," Mr. Herr said.
In addition to video footage taken from 16 cameras in and around the carryout on Mulberry and Page streets, jurors heard testimony from several witnesses, two of which said that they saw Hunter running in an alley away from the store carrying a gun and dressed in a gray hooded sweatshirt and dark pants -- clothing similar to what was seen on the fleeing suspect in the store's video.
Attorney Phillip Carlisle asked jurors to use common sense when gauging the credibility of the witnesses and reviewed their statements to point out what he said were inconsistencies. He noted that those inside the store could not identify the suspects because -- as the video depicted -- they were wearing masks.
Mr. Carlisle questioned why Hunter would have removed his mask as he ran from the store if it, in fact, protected his identity.
"It does not make sense," he said. "It does not make sense because he was not there."
The defense's only witness was Hunter's older sister, who said that he was at her house sleeping when she left the morning of Nov. 21 at about 8:30 a.m. She was unclear when she returned but said it was about before 10:30 a.m. and that she found her brother still sleeping.
The testimony contradicted three state witnesses who said they saw Hunter that morning. The robbery occurred about 9:45 that morning, according to police reports.
Assistant County Prosecutor Clint Wasserman asked jurors to consider the 51 pieces of evidence shown -- including photographs of the scene -- and the testimony given by the witnesses. He noted that the owner of the Express Carryout testified during the trial that he noticed Hunter in the store the day before the robbery, spending time watching the monitor that showed the various camera angles.
He further pointed out that the testimony given by each of the state's witnesses was consistent with what they had told police at the time of the incident.
"The witnesses, they came to you and told you what they saw. They came to you and told you what they experienced and they told you from that witness stand the same thing they told the police," Mr. Wasserman said.
The carryout clerk, Bandar Abu-Karsh, has also been charged in Allen's death, with one count of voluntary manslaughter. A March 28 hearing date has been set in that case.
Contact Erica Blake at: email@example.com or 419-213-2134.
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