Editor’s note: Defense counsel Joseph F. Gorman is not related to the author of this story.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Attorneys did not dispute Wednesday during opening statements that Louis Littlejohn shot the father of his grandson in September of 2017 at a home on Belden Avenue.
Prosecutors said the killing was planned and murder. Defense attorney Joseph F. Gorman of Akron, however, said the 66-year-old Littlejohn was sick, afraid of the victim and confused when he shot Charles Pargo, 27, four times in the back as Pargo held his three-week-old son.
Police said Littlejohn shot Pargo after they were called to the home about 10:40 p.m. Sept. 18, 2017, for a custody dispute. Police were clearing the call after they thought it was resolved to head to a gunfire call when they say Littlejohn with no warning got up from a seat on the front porch to go inside and shot Pargo as he walked up the steps.
Littlejohn then came outside and surrendered when police told him to.
Opening statements were held after a jury was picked Monday before Judge Anthony D’Apolito. Littlejohn has been in the Mahoning County Jail since he was arrested for Pargo’s death.
In his opening statement, Assistant Prosecutor Steve Maszczak said Littlejohn owned the house but was allowing his daughter to live there with her children, including the one she had with Pargo.
Maszczak said Littlejohn’s daughter called her father because she was having an argument with Pargo, and before Littlejohn and his wife went over to see what was going on, Littlejohn made sure to take a .38-caliber revolver he had. Maszczak said Littlejohn also called 911 and told the call taker just before he left, “I don’t want to do anything wrong.”
Gorman said Littlejohn took a gun with him because he was afraid of Pargo, who had threatened Littlejohn about a year before the shooting. Gorman said Littlejohn’s daughter also had a protection order against Pargo that she got when she was six months pregnant with their child. The two had an on-and-off relationship, Gorman said.
Also, Gorman said, Littlejohn was and still is suffering from a myriad of health problems bought on by two strokes and diabetes that has led to poor vision. Gorman said when Littlejohn shot Pargo, he did not know Pargo had the baby because he couldn’t see the baby.
Gorman said what his client did was wrong, but his health problems and fear of Pargo led to the shooting.
“You can do wrong and still not commit a murder,” Gorman said. “You can do wrong and still not commit an aggravated murder.”
Officer Rob DiMaiolo was one of the officers who answered the call, along with Jason Sletvold, who at the time was a new officer being trained by DiMaiolo. When they arrived at the home, Littlejohn’s daughter was already gone with her other children, but the baby was still there, along with her parents.
Sletvold talked to the daughter on the phone and she said it was alright if Pargo stayed in the house for the night. Both officers said because the two people fighting were separated and the daughter gave her permission for Pargo to stay, they were going to leave and answer a gunfire call on nearby Jean Street. The officers said they were unaware if there was a protection order against Pargo when they arrived at the home.
DiMaiolo said when they were about to go, he noticed Littlejohn, who was sitting on the porch, get up and he walked “at a pretty fast pace” toward the front door.
“As I’m walking down the steps, I can see him running behind my back,” DiMaiolo said. “That’s when I went after him.”
DiMaiolo tried to stop him and went inside after him. just after he walked inside, he heard several shots and saw the muzzle flash from a gun. Because it was so dark inside, he did not see Pargo.
“I didn’t know if he [Littlejohn] was shooting at me,” DiMaiolo said. “I couldn’t return fire because he was holding the baby.”
DiMaioloretreated outside and at gunpoint, he ordered Littlejohn to drop his gun and come outside, which Littlejohn did.
Police found the baby when they turned Pargo over. The baby was not harmed.