YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A man who police said is a person of interest in an Oct. 31 homicide was indicted Thursday by a Mahoning County grand jury on an obstruction of justice charge.
Charles Lightning, 28, of Columbus, has been free on bond since he posted $25,000 bond in the case since he was arraigned April 8 in municipal court.
The charge is a fifth-degree felony, and probation is encouraged for those types of low-level felonies by the state legislature.
Lightning is accused of lying to detectives who are investigating the Oct. 31 shooting death of Marquis Buxton, 24, who was found dead from gunshot wounds in the front seat of an SUV at West Judson Avenue and Market Street.
Detectives were looking to question Lightning after he showed up at St. Elizabeth Health Center almost the exact same time officers responded to the parking lot where Buxton was found dead.
Lightning told detectives he was shot in the 3200 block of Market Stree, but police had no evidence of a shooting there, including a lack of any activation from a gunshot sensor in that block.
They tried to several times to question Lightning again, but he rebuffed their efforts, so a warrant was issued for the obstruction charge on March 2. Lightning wasn’t found until April 8 in Warren.
Detectives believe Lightning first lied to them when he was questioned at St. Elizabeth Health Center after police received a call from the hospital telling them they had a gunshot wound victim.
After U.S. Marshals took him into custody on the warrant, Lightning then changed his story to say he was present at the shooting, but he would not say who shot Buxton. Police also found Lightning’s blood at the crime scene, reports said.
The lead investigator on the case, Detective Sgt. Michael Lambert, said at Lightning’s April 16 preliminary hearing in municipal court that because Lightning lied to police twice, it taints the entire investigation and defense attorneys can use that in their case should someone ever be bought to trial for Buxton’s death.