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Plea deal cancels jury trial in Trumbull

WARREN — Potential Trumbull County jurors were sent home early Monday afternoon after a man pleaded guilty to two felony gun charges, canceling the first scheduled trial under COVID-19 protocols in Common Pleas Court.

Preston J. May, 22, of Youngstown pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon and improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle. Judge Peter J. Kontos will sentence May after a background investigation is completed by the county adult probation department.

May, who could face up to three years in prison, was going to be his own lawyer in a jury trial. After the plea deals was completed, however, Kontos released the 30 to 35 people who had reported to jury duty in the large courtroom on the courthouse’s third floor.

Jury trials in Trumbull County have been on hold since before the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the nation in March. Health guidelines must give face-masked jurors the space to social distance from one another. Court officials had stated the spacious courtroom used by Judge Andrew D. Logan could handle the large jury pools for jury selections.

Each common pleas judge then would have the discretion on whether to take testimony in their own courtrooms.

In May’s case, Kontos had appointed attorney Charles Mickens to be standby counsel in case May had decided not to defend himself before a jury. Mickens stood beside May as he pleaded guilty to the charges.

According to Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Becker, May was arrested after a traffic stop in Liberty on Dec. 4, 2019. Becker said a loaded firearm was found under the car seat and testimony would have come from the arresting officer and video. Becker said the plea deal called for two charges of assault against May to be dropped upon sentencing, which would take place in about a month.

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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