YOUNGSTOWN - The mother of the man killed during a shooting at an off-campus fraternity house last February said after the jury convicted the man accused of his murder Wednesday that her son did not die a needless death.
''This meant the world to me,'' said Sherlene Johnson through tears after jurors convicted Columbus Jones of the Feb. 6, 2011, death of her son, 25-year-old Jamail Johnson. ''All that my son did in life, he didn't die in vain.''
Jurors in the courtroom of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge John Durkin found Jones, 23, guilty of one count of murder, 11 counts of felonious assault and a single count of discharging a firearm into a habitation.
He faces a sentence of 15 years to life on the murder plus a three-year firearm specification charge; a maximum eight years apiece on each of the felonious assault convictions; and two to eight years for the discharging a firearm charge.
Sentencing is set for 1 p.m. today.
Jurors heard closing arguments in the case Tuesday and began deliberating at about 3 p.m. before resuming deliberations at 9 a.m. Wednesday. They reached the verdicts about 2:10 p.m. Wednesday. Testimony began Aug. 21.
Jones was accused of killing Johnson and wounding 11 others at a party at 55 Indiana Ave. on the North Side. Prosecutors say Jones was upset after he was in a fight at the party, and Johnson, a Youngstown State University student, was fatally wounded while shepherding party-goers to safety.
Jones' brother, Mark Jones, is accused of giving his brother the gun used in the shooting. He also faces a charge of murder and his trial is expected to get under way soon.
Three others are also charged in the case.
There was a delay in announcing the verdicts because one of the jurors had a question on one of the counts Johnson was facing. Family members of both men were praying in court and sobbing.
Jones, dressed in a sweater vest and white dress shirt, showed no reaction as the verdicts were read. His family and his attorney left court immediately after sentencing and did not comment.
Assistant Prosecutor Becky Doherty said afterward that the 11 victims who were wounded and testified all did a great job of showing the jury the chaos and horror of that early morning.
''I don't think we may ever grasp how horrible that night was,'' Doherty said.
Hill said she planned to speak at the sentencing hearing today.
''I'm thankful to God and I believe in the justice system,'' Hill said. ''I can't thank Becky enough, YSU, my family and friends.''