Judge finds defendant guilty of Youngstown murder following brief trial

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During the trial, Brian Donlow acted as his own attorney

Brian Donlow, indicted on an aggravated murder charge for a Youngstown shooting.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A man already serving one prison sentence for an East Side murder will soon be serving another.

Brian Donlow, 25, was found guilty Wednesday following a bench trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court on all but one count in the Nov. 18, 2018, shooting death of Christopher Jackson, 21, of Warren.

Jackson was shot to death in a car he was riding in at Stewart and Bennington avenues. The driver of the car, Carlos Davis, was wounded.

Judge Anthony D’APolito found Donlow guilty after a brief trial that began Tuesday on charges of aggravated murder, attempted murder, felonious assault and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The first three counts each have firearm specifications, which will merge at sentencing into one three-year term because they all happened during the same course of conduct.

Sentencing is set for May 11.

During the trial, Donlow acted as his own attorney.

Davis, who is serving time for charges in Trumbull County unrelated to the case, refused to testify during the trial when called prosecutors, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, even though prosecutors said they knew of no criminal activity he was involved in.

Judge D’Apolito said a defendant can not invoke the Fifth Amendment unless they face some sort of criminal liability, and because of that, he found Davis guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to the maximum 30-day jail sentence for a first offense. The sentence will be tacked onto the end of the sentence he is already serving now.

In February 2020, Donlow was convicted of the June 30, 2019 shooting death of 30-year-old Brandon Wylie at the Plaza View apartment complex on the east side.

Also convicted with Donlow was 23-year-old Stephon Hopkins. They are both serving prison sentences of 21 years to life.

Hopkins and a third man, 23-year-old Lorice Moore, face the same charges as Donlow does in the Jackson case. They will be tried at a later date.

Prosecutors said Donlow and the other two were picked up by Davis and were driving around when Davis and Jackson were shot with no warning. Jackson died in the car and Davis ran away and made it to a nearby porch, where police were called.

Donlow said in a brief opening statement there was no evidence to link him to the crime, saying there was no DNA or other evidence that showed he was in the car when the shots were fired.

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