YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Opening statements took place in the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court on Monday in the case of a man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend in front of her children.
A jury was selected earlier Monday before Judge Anthony Donofrio to hear the aggravated murder case against Kyle Rice, 31, who is accused of the February 2019 shooting death of Danekua Bankston, 28.
Bankston died on Feb. 12, a few days after she was shot in the head on Feb. 8. It happened in her Oregon Avenue apartment on the west side of Youngstown.
Police said Bankston was shot in front of her children and sister and that Rice fled but was arrested hours after the shooting.
In her opening statement, Assistant Prosecutor Catilyn Andrews said Bankston was doing her sister’s hair when Rice went to the apartment after repeatedly calling her.
Andrews said Rice was carrying a bag when he went over and the pair went to an upstairs bedroom where they argued in front of their youngest child. The sister heard Bankston beg for her life before she was shot in front of the youngest child, Andrews said.
Andrews said the three children were a product of their relationship and that the two had an “on-again, off-again” relationship.
“She [Bankston] said, ‘Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!’ And that was followed by multiple gunshots,” Andrews said.
Rice ran out the door, still carrying the bag, according to Andrews.
Doug Taylor, Rice’s lawyer, told jurors his client did not plan anything, which prosecutors have to prove if they want an aggravated murder conviction.
Taylor said the shooting came after a heated argument. He said Rice did have a bag and that he had a gun inside the bag, which he always carried. Rice had a concealed carry permit and carried the gun because he was a barber and always had a lot of money on him, Taylor said.
Prosecutors have said in previous hearings there are witnesses and cell phone evidence placing Rice at the crime scene.
Rice is on his third set of lawyers in the case because of various disagreements with other attorneys and at least two of those attorneys have been court appointed.
He has also tried twice to get his $1 million bond reduced, as he has been held in the county jail awaiting trial, but both motions were declined.