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A high school student’s hopes for leniency from an Ohio court were dashed recently when he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for his part in a series of killings.
The 17-year-old defendant was charged with aggravated murder and attempted murder in the deaths of three men and the wounding of another. He was allegedly an accomplice in a plot hatched by an older man to lure victims with a phony Craigslist posting.
The posting was for a job opportunity doing farm labor. Three men in their 40s or 50s were killed, one near Akron and the others in southeastern Ohio at a farm where they had come expecting job interviews.
The victims were selected because they were single, out of work and unlikely to raise red flags with law enforcement if they disappeared. Robbery was the motive for the crimes, said prosecutors.
The man who escaped death was lured like the others by the promise of an employment opportunity. When the potential victim showed up at the farm, the older man tried to shoot him, but succeeded only in wounding him in the arm as he fled.
Boy Claimed Influence From “Evil” Adult
The wounded man testified at the 17-year-old’s trial, identifying him as the 53-year-old shooter’s accomplice. Prosecutors did not claim that the teen had actually shot any of the victims himself.
The older man, who has a prison record and presented himself as an Akron street minister, apparently had become the young man’s spiritual mentor. The youth claimed that he could not see his way clear to any alternatives when he was drawn into the murder plot, though he now realized that his mentor is evil.
The teen’s defense attorneys had asked the judge to consider that the youth came from a broken home and had no prior record, and to take his age into account. Additionally, the high schooler said he did not realize that his mentor intended to murder the men until he shot the first victim.
Pleas For Leniency Denied
The young man’s defense attorneys tried to negotiate a more lenient sentence in exchange for testimony against the triggerman in his upcoming trial, and sentencing was briefly delayed for talks. The attorneys had hoped for a deal that would allow the young man to be released within 20 to 30 years.
In the end, the judge said that despite any mitigating factors the defense presented, the killings were cold-blooded executions, and the 17-year-old had had an opportunity to stop them.
Every case is different, and every defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Having a capable defense attorney is a criminal defendant’s best chance for acquittal or a reduced sentence. Whatever the outcome, it is wise to engage an experienced criminal defense attorney, because life and liberty may be at stake.