Man sentenced on gun charge related to shooting death on Youngstown’s south side

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A grand jury refused to indict Aaron Clinkscale for murder, instead charging him with weapons offenses

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — An argument over a woman in February led to one man’s death and another sentenced to 30 months in prison Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Aaron Clinkscale, 29, received the sentence from Judge Anthony Donofrio on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm that resulted from the Feb. 4, 2020, shooting death of Ra’Mon Cooper in the parking lot of Club Savo on South Avenue.

Clinkscale was originally charged a few days after the shooting with murder, but a grand jury in March refused to indict Cooper on murder charges. The grand jury instead opted for a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Grand jury proceedings are secret, and it is not known why they declined to indict for murder, but they could have found that Clinkscale was acting in self-defense.

Clinkscale, who appeared via video from the Mahoning County Jail, told Judge Donofrio that his brother and Cooper argued over a woman. He said they were leaving the bar while Cooper was restrained when Cooper broke free and charged the men, firing from a handgun.

Clinkscale grabbed a gun from a car and shot at Cooper, killing him.

Judge Donofrio said he was shocked that someone wound up dead.

“It’s easy to look back now and see how ridiculous this was,” Judge Donofrio said. “A deadly confrontation over a girl?”

Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Trapp asked for the maximum three-year sentence, saying that people who illegally own guns often do not use them for benevolent purposes.

“People who use guns illegally don’t use them to protect. They use them to kill,” Trapp said.

Defense attorney Tony Meranto said if his client didn’t have access to a gun, even an illegal one, he might not have survived his encounter with Cooper.

“If Mr. Clinkscale didn’t have a gun that night, he’d be dead,” Meranto said.

Meranto said a maximum sentence was not necessary. He said his client accepted responsibility for his actions and giving someone a maximum sentence for pleading guilty would have a “chilling effect” on other cases.

Judge Donofrio asked Clinkscale why he and his brother just didn’t drive away when Cooper ran after them and Clinkscale said that’s what he was trying to do.

Clinkscale was given credit for 209 days he has served in the county jail while awaiting the disposition of his case.

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