Editor’s note: Defense counsel Joseph F. Gorman is not related to the author of this story.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Jurors Friday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court found a man who admitted to shooting the father of his grandson in the back guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
The verdict in the case of Louis Littlejohn, 66, came about 3:40 p.m. in the courtroom of Judge Anthony D’Apolito. Jurors received the case late Friday morning following closing arguments and instruction on the law.
Jurors found that Littlejohn acted in a sudden fit of rage Sept. 18, 2017, when he shot and killed Charles Pargo, 27, in a home in Belden Avenue as Pargo was holding his 3-week-old son, who is Littlejohn’s grandson.
Jurors also found Littlejohn not guilty of murder and aggravated murder.
Sentencing will be done following a presentence investigation. The maximum Littlejohn can receive is 11 years for manslaughter and three years on a firearm specification attached to the charge.
He will be given credit for the time he has served in the county jail since he was arrested just after Pargo was killed.
Prosecutors had earlier been pushing for aggravated murder charges against Littlejohn, saying because police did not give him his infant grandson or kick the father out of the house, Littlejohn decided to take care of it himself.
Speaking before Judge Anthony D’Apolito, Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa said Littlejohn waited for police to clear a domestic disturbance call at a Belden Avenue home he owns before running inside and shooting Pargo four times in the back as Pargo held his three-week-old grandson, Isaiah.
“He shot him because the police wouldn’t listen to him,” Cantalamessa said. “The police wouldn’t do what he wanted.”
Defense attorney Joseph F. Gorman told jurors his client, who testified Thursday and admitted shooting Pargo, was sick from a variety of ailments that impaired his eyesight and judgment.
Littlejohn is charged with aggravated murder and murder, but Gorman urged jurors to consider the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter because he was provoked into a fit of passion.
“Hold him responsible for what he did,” Gorman said. “What he did was voluntary manslaughter.”
Cantalamessa told jurors Littlejohn expected police to give him custody of the baby after they were called about 10:30 p.m. Sept. 18, 2017, for a fight between Pargo and Littlejohn’s daughter Brittany. But Brittany left before police arrived and told officers on the phone Pargo could keep the child and stay in the home.
Cantalamessa said that did not sit well with Littlejohn, who she said also did not like Pargo, who clashed with his daughter frequently in an on-again, off-again relationship.
“This was nothing but revenge for not getting what he wanted,” Cantalamessa said.
Cantalamessa said Pargo was the baby’s father, and he would babysit the baby when Brittany Littlejohn was working, so the fact that police allowed Pargo to keep the baby was not unusual, especially when the mother said he could.
She also reminded jurors that when Brittany Littlejohn called her parents about the fight and they decided to go to the home she was staying at, which Littlejohn rented for her, he made sure to take along a gun — a gun he was not legally allowed to buy.
He might have been calm, but he waited for police until he went inside and shot Pargo as he walking up the stairs holding the baby, she said. The baby was not hurt.
Gorman told jurors his client was ill that evening and should not have even gotten out of bed.
“You can hear a sick man on the 911 call,” Gorman said.
His client is also very remorseful, Gorman said. Gorman said before he testified Thursday, Littlejohn asked if he could apologize to Pargo’s family when he took the witness stand. Littlejohn did apologize, at times tearfully.