YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The second day of the Larenz Rhodes murder trial is underway in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Rhodes, 19, is one of seven men charged in the January 24, 2019 shooting death of 23-year-old Crystal Hernandez in her Youngstown apartment.
The first witness Wednesday was Patrolman Marcin Stachowicz, who was the first person in the apartment and found Hernandez. He and other officers answered a gunfire call there about 9:10 p.m. January 25, 2019.
Stachowicz said Hernandez’s boyfriend, Gabriel Smith, let him in the apartment and Smith’s mother was also with him. They followed officers inside.
Stachowicz said there were shattered windows and bullet holes in the door.
He saw Hernandez, then told Smith and his mother to get out because the apartment was a crime scene at that point.
Stachowicz testified Hernandez was lying against a bed in a pool of blood. He said her 2-year-old son, who Smith is the father of, was in her arms.
“It looked like the baby was just sleeping,” Stachowicz said. “I was able to check the baby for wounds, a quick check, and wrapped him in a blanket.”
Hernandez was “unresponsive” and appeared to be dead, Stachowicz said.
He asked Smith’s mother, the child’s grandmother, to take the child to one of the police cruisers to keep him warm. She agreed, Stachowicz testified.
Police found 46 shell casings outside of the apartment that night — and even more seven weeks later after the snow melted — from four different weapons, including 25 7.62mm casings used in AK-47 style assault weapons.
Prosecutors say Hernandez was killed because Rhodes and his co-defendants wanted to retaliate against her boyfriend because of a previous shooting.
In an opening statement Tuesday, prosecutors said Smith and another man, Lavante Perry, had been in a running feud with Rhodes and his friends that involved two previous shootings before Hernandez’s murder.
A jury was seated late Monday afternoon before Judge Anthony Donofrio.
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