WARREN - It's still unclear from court testimony what Taemarr Walker's role was in the April 13 kidnapping and robbery of two local women, one of whom was raped at gunpoint.
The two women went to Walker's Woodbine Avenue S.E. home to pick him up and go to Eastwood Mall, where they intended to get pedicures. But Walker, who spoke on the cellphone to one of the women, wasn't home.
Instead, the two women encountered another man - a man identified as Kevin Johns - who is on trial this week on a series of charges that could land him back in prison for 50 years or more.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Defendant Kevin Johns of Warren listens to testimony in his trial on Tuesday in Judge Andrew Logan’s courtroom. He is accused of kidnapping, robbery and assault.
Miranda Hitzler on Tuesday told a jury in the courtroom of Judge Andrew Logan that she and her best friend knocked on the back door of Walker's house and another man, with his face hidden, ordered them back into Hitzler's car.
''He got in the back seat and said he wanted our money. Then he told us to drive,'' Hitzler said, explaining that the gunman quickly took off the mask to reveal several tattoos on his arms and face, including a symbol on his forehead.
She told a jury of six men and six women how she and her friend, who offered tearful testimony Monday in the same courtroom, identified Johns, 24, later through Facebook photos, where he was called ''Coyote.''
Hitzler, 33, told how after driving around, the gunman ordered her to pull into a driveway on Kenilworth Avenue at Grandview S.E.
Hitzler was ordered to stand near a fence, while the friend was raped inside the car. Hitzler's jacket, which the attacker used to clean himself, was kept by the women. The gunman eventually ran from their car and they turned the semen-soaked jacket over to police at the hospital where the rape victim underwent tests.
Hitzler said she and her friend have since parted ways after a disagreement over money. She told defense attorney Daniel Keating that a passage he produced from a Facebook page that called the rape consensual sex was inaccurate.
Hitzler told assistant county prosecutor Chris Becker that the Facebook message she sent to the victim was completely wrong because she was angry at the former friend at the time.
Former Detective Michael Currington, who was assigned the case, explained how Johns' DNA samples that are on file with a state crime data bank matched the semen samples, and Johns' photo and tattoos also matched his identification in another data bank.
The information on Johns was on file since he had served prison time previously and at least part of the stint behind bars was in the same prison as Walker.
Johns' DNA was collected after he was convicted of robbery in Cincinnati in June 2010. He served a year in prison, according to records, and was arrested in Cincinnati last July and returned here to face the charges that also contain a sexual motivation specification since the rape occurred at gunpoint.
Walker, 24, was fatally shot by a Warren police officer Oct. 19 near the intersection of Risher and Palmyra Road. Walker was shot multiple times, according to a coroner's report.
The case was turned over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which has since completed the probe and turned findings over to the Trumbull County Prosecutor's Office.
Walker's shooting was followed one week later with the Oct. 26 fatal shooting of Richard Rollison IV. Tashawn Walker, the brother of Taemarr Walker, was charged with murder in Rollison's death and is waiting to stand trial. The Ohio State Highway Patrol was called in to assist the day Rollison was killed.
The period immediately after the shootings was marked by threats against Warren police officers, threats of violence at the city schools and increased reports of gunshots in the city.