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UAL shooter loses appeal

Judge upholds conviction of 39 to 40 1/2 years in prison

WARREN — The 11th District Court of Appeals on Monday upheld the conviction and 39 to 40 1/2 year prison sentence for the man responsible for the May 10, 2019, drive-by shooting at the University At Larchmont in northeast Warren.

The court rejected the appeal filed by the attorney for Ryan N. Rulong, 28, who now is housed in Lake Erie Correctional Institution. The prison website says his term will expire in 2058.

Rulong was sentenced Aug. 2, 2019, by Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Ronald J. Rice after a jury took less than an hour to convict him of eight counts of felonious assault, eight counts of attempted murder — all counts with a gun and drive-by specification for the May 10 incident — and aggravated robbery for the May 14, 2019, holdup at True North gas station in Howland.

Three people were injured by falling debris from the overhead shots, police reports state.

Rulong, who did not have a previous criminal record, told investigators he fired 16 shots into the northeast Warren bar / restaurant. Defense attorney Michael Scala had argued at trial that prosecutors piled on charges in a way that didn’t suit the gravity of what actually happened. Scala argued Rulong didn’t intend to kill anyone, and some of the shots were aimed too high to hit anyone.

In the appeal that claimed seven court errors, Scala argued the judge denied the defense a continuance, thus not giving the defense enough time to prepare for trial. The defense, in addition to noting Rulong was not given a competency exam, also argued some of the consecutive sentences given were not justified.

Three members of the appeals court, after hearing final arguments on June 10 unanimously ruled the defense claims were without merit.

Scala said Monday afternoon he hadn’t seen the court’s decision but said he was “saddened” by the result.

Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Ashleigh Musick, who argued the case for the state before the 11th District judges, said she and Prosecutor Dennis Watkins are both pleased with the outcome, while Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Becker, who led the prosecution at Rulong’s trial, said Rice conducted an excellent trial, and Warren and Howland police did a great job investigating the case.

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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