YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — For a brief period Wednesday, the courtroom of Judge Anthony Donofrio turned into an impromptu club as he sentenced a rapper who pleaded guilty to robbing another rapper in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Prosecutors used video clips recorded by Holden Raines, 32, of Beaver Falls, Pa., showing Raines taunting a man he pleaded guilty to robbing by putting a gold chain he took from the victim in front of the camera and challenging the victim to a fight. The robbery happened in November 2019 outside an East Midlothian Boulevard club.
Besides the two YouTube videos, prosecutors also played homemade videos by Raines and showed Facebook posts where Raines, in language that can best be described as “raw” — mocked the victim for cooperating with police.
After it was all over, Judge Donofrio sentenced Raines to three years probation and ordered him to undergo substance abuse counseling at Community Corrections Association as well as banning him from social media while he is on probation.
At times, the judge could do nothing but shake his head and smile wryly as Raines boasted on his videos.
The matter of sentencing left him “a little perplexed,” Judge Donofrio said.
Assistant Prosecutor Martin Hume asked for a three year maximum prison term for the charge, saying that the victim was beaten severely before he was robbed and that Raines had intimidated and mocked him long after on social media and in his music.
But defense attorney Ron Yarwood said the victim had also been needling Raines on social media as the case wound its way through court, and at one point was almost held in contempt of court for it.
Yarwood disagreed with the severity of the beating but did say the robbery was the culmination of a feud that had gone too far.
“I personally think neither side knew when to let go,” Yarwood said.
Yarwood asked for probation, saying since the videos were made, his client had backed off his aggressive attitude and that he took responsibility for taking the chain.
The victim told the judge he wants the entire ordeal behind him.
“I’ve been humiliated,” he said. “My name is in the dirt after I built my career as a musician.”
The victim said he was signed to a record deal before the attack and he believes Raines was jealous of his success.
“I just want this to stop and I want justice,” he said.
Raines agreed that the situation had “gotten out of hand.”
“I wanted none of this to happen,” Raines, who was dressed in a dark three-piece suit and gold tie, said. “I didn’t want to hurt him. I just wanted to fight him.”
Under questioning from the judge, Raines never really said why he had a beef with the victim, “because he was spreading lies about me” and he wanted to fight him “like a man” and then shake hands afterward because of their misunderstanding.
The judge noted he has had the case before him for a long time and he had no idea how he was going to handle it. He said both Raines and the victim were immature. He also said he was not sure how to handle restitution; the victim claimed the value of the chain that was taken is $5,000, but he does not have an invoice to prove it.
Judge Donofrio said he wanted some documentation on how much the chain is worth and when he receives that he will set an amount for restitution.
Yarwood said he hopes both men can move past this incident. He said although rap is not his kind of music, he said both men are very talented. His client also branches out and sings R&B, Yarwood said.
“He’s actually pretty good, your honor,” Yarwood said.