Ringing cellphone alerts officer to key evidence in conspiracy to commit murder trial

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Lyric Moore, 24, jailed with no bond since March of 2017 on aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and tampering with evidence charges

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A city police officer who was called to tow a burned SUV, that was later found to have a body in it, testified Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that he could hear a cell phone ringing at the crime scene.

The phone was later linked to Lyric Moore, 25, who is on trial for conspiracy to aggravated murder and other charges for the February 2018 shooting death of Zachary Howell, 40, of Campbell.

Howell was found shot to death and burned beyond recognition in an SUV that was abandoned behind a vacant home at Edgar Street and Josephine Avenue.

Police say Moore worked with Terrell Martin, 40, to lure Howell out of his home so he could be robbed.

Martin pleaded guilty in 2020 to charges of murder and aggravated robbery and is serving a sentence of 18 years to life in prison.

At opening statements Tuesday before Judge Maureen Sweeney, defense attorney Mark Lavelle said Moore was with Howell when Martin and a second man came to Howell’s home, ordered her to leave and took her phone so she wouldn’t call police. That phone was found at the crime scene and police traced it back to Moore and later Martin.

Patrolman William Burton said Howell’s body had already been found when he was standing with a firefighter and heard the phone ring. Burton did not answer or touch the phone, he said. He said he marked it for evidence for detectives.

In other matters, Judge Sweeney dismissed a female juror after the juror told her or a prior legal matter that may affect the case. The juror was replaced by an alternate.

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