Aunt of 13-year-old shooting victim testifies about rain of bullets into her home

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Jana Cox, felonious assault, improperly discharging firearm at or into habitation, obstructing official business, Youngstown

Jana Cox

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Frances Robles said she was playing a game on her phone just before her house was shot up March 31 and her niece was wounded.

Robles testified Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in a bench trial for Jana Cox, 25, who is accused of complicity to commit felonious assault and complicity to improper discharge of a firearm at or into a habitation for a shooting that wounded a 13-year-old girl.

Robles said everyone in the house at 859 E. Avondale Ave. was asleep just before 2 a.m. except for her.

As she was playing a game on her phone, she heard a loud boom and she went downstairs to check on the children who were sleeping downstairs, including her 13-year-old niece.

“I thought the kids were playing downstairs. I heard a big boom,” Robles testified before Judge John Durkin. “They were all sound asleep, but my niece woke up saying, ‘Auntie my leg hurts.'” “I said maybe you slept on it wrong. I turned the light on and noticed a bullet hole in her leg. When I screamed, everybody in the house woke up.”

Police say the SUV that was used in the shooting belonged to Cox, and she allowed 16-year-old Xavier Hile of Niles to drive it early that morning. Another 16-year-old, DeSean Wilkerson, is accused of firing about 20 shots at the home, one of which wounded the girl.

Cox, of Warren, not only opted to have her case heard by a judge instead of a jury, she also refused to waive her right to a speedy trial, which is a rarity in the common pleas court system in Mahoning County.

Wilkerson and Hile, both of Niles, were both charged as juveniles. Wilkerson is expected to testify later against Cox, saying she gave him the money to buy the gun he used.

The three were stopped on a South Avenue entrance ramp to Interstate 680 North by a city police officer who noticed the SUV matched the description of one used in the shooting. Cox was not driving the vehicle, but inside police found a gun and some shell casings.

Cox’s attorney said Monday his client had no idea a shooting would take place.

Robles also described the damage done by the bullets to the house, saying one bullet ended up in a box of ice cream in the freezer.

Before her testimony, several police officers who were called to the shooting also testified about what they say.

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