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Jury convicts man of murder, believing victim identified his killer

TNS Regional News • Dec 12, 2013 at 7:07 PM

Jurors in the murder trial of Antwan L. Phelps received what a Franklin County prosecutor called “uncommon” evidence this week.

“You have the man who died, the victim of the murder, telling you who shot him,” Assistant Prosecutor David Zeyen said yesterday in closing arguments.

The jury had heard testimony from a Columbus firefighter who said 18-year-old Jaquan White, dying from gunshots in his back and side, told him, “Twan shot me.”

Twan is Phelps’ nickname, other witnesses testified.

Jurors deliberated for about 90 minutes yesterday afternoon before finding him guilty of murder with a gun specification.

Phelps, 21, of 1734 E. Long St., will receive a mandatory 18 years to life in prison when he is sentenced next Wednesday by Common Pleas Judge Charles Schneider.

White was shot three times on Belcher Drive, near Cleveland Avenue, on the evening of Oct. 1, 2012.

The key witness was a man who testified that he was in his car, leaving the parking lot of the Quick & Easy Mart at the intersection, when he saw the shooting just to the west in front of an apartment complex on Belcher Drive. He said the victim ran in front of his car as he fled the gunman.

The eyewitness picked out Phelps from a photo lineup on the night of the shooting and identified him in court as the shooter.

Two other witnesses who know Phelps testified that they didn’t see the shooting but placed him at the scene.

“There is no doubt, reasonable or otherwise, that Antwan Phelps is the perpetrator of this murder,” Zeyen said.

Defense attorney W. Martin Midian told jurors that the eyewitness had only “a matter of seconds” to see the shooting from a distance of about 40 feet on a rainy evening.

The victim’s utterance of “Twan,” he said, was too incomplete to be reliable.

“We don’t stretch,” he said. “That’s not good enough.”


By John Futty - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)

©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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