YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — You could say it was deja vu all over again Tuesday for Carlos Davis.
Wounded in a Nov. 18, 2018 shooting that killed Christopher Jackson, 21, of Warren, Davis was asked to testify in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in the trial of two of the three men accused of killing Jackson and wounding him.
Instead, Davis invoked his Fifth Amendment against self incrimination, even though the last time he invoked it in the trial of the third defendant, he was held in contempt because Judge Anthony D’Apolito ruled that Davis had no right to invoke the Fifth because he was not facing any potential criminal liability.
Stephon Hopkins and Lorice Moore, both 25, are both on trial on charges of aggravated murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors said Davis was the driver of a car and Jackson was his passenger when they were shot as the car was in motion on Bennington Avenue.
Opening statements were held and testimony began Tuesday after jurors were selected Monday. A previous defendant, Brian Donlow, 25, was convicted earlier this year in a bench trial before Judge D’Apolito.
Hopkins was shot nine times, including once in the back of the head. He was found by police in a car that was still running in a field on Bennington Avenue.
Davis, who was shot twice, managed to run away from the car and hid on a nearby front porch until police were called.
In her opening statement, Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Paris said Jackson was friends with Hopkins and asked Davis to pick Hopkins up in Youngstown for an evening out. Hopkins and Jackson communicated via Facebook messenger to set up the evening out, Paris said.
Instead, Hopkins, Moore and Donlow got in the car. Paris said all three men had guns and police recovered shell casings from inside the car from three different weapons.
Harris said the fact there were three men in the car with guns and three guns were used shows that they planned to kill Jackson and Davis.
“How do we know there was a plan? There were messages. Stephon Hopkins was trying to lure the victim to Youngstown,” Paris said. “How else do we know it was planned? There were three guns. Three different calibers.”
Moore’s DNA was also found on a door handle and a key inside the car had Hopkins’ DNA on it, Paris said.
One of Hopkins’ attorneys, Corey Grimm, said police had a preconceived notion of who was responsible when they began their investigation, “without looking into what happened that night. We don’t really know what happened that night.”
Grimm said investigators failed to canvass the neighborhood and never recovered the weapons used in the crime. Hopkins also denies ever seeing Jackson that night, Grimm said.
For Moore, defense attorney Nick Cerni said just because his client’s DNA was found in the car, it doesn’t mean he was in the car when the shooting took place.
“The burden is on the state to show that touch DNA was there on or about the time that the crime occurred,” Cerni said.
Paris also told jurors Davis would be called as a witness but she conceded, “we don’t what Carlos Davis will say. You guys are going to find out when we find out.”
In the Donlow trial, Davis refused to testify, claiming that he was afraid something would be used against him, even though prosecutors at the time said they only wanted to ask him about what happened the night of the shooting and they had no plans to ask him anything else.
Testifying in jail coveralls, because he is serving a sentence from Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, Davis refused to even give his name for the record when asked by Assistant Prosecutor Mike Yacovone.
“I plead the Fifth,” Davis said.
“We’ve been through this before Carlos, right?” Yacovone asked.
“I plead the Fifth,” Davis responded.
“Does this mean you’re not going to answer any of my questions, Carlos?” Yacovone asked.
“I plead the Fifth,” Davis said.
After a sidebar conference with the lawyers, Davis was excused by Judge D’Apolito.
Both Donlow and Hopkins are serving sentences of 21 years to life in prison after being convicted of an unrelated murder on the East Side in the summer of 2018.