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Defendant in city shootings to stand trial in fall

WARREN — A Warren man scheduled to stand trial in two violent felony cases briefly considered defending himself before getting a new attorney.

Mehki Walker, 21, appeared before Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Peter J. Kontos last week, saying he would not waive his right to a speedy trial so attorney John Juhasz could have time to prepare his defense.

Walker is accused of shooting at law enforcement officers during a vehicle chase last fall and is facing two counts of attempted murder, two counts of felonious assault, one count of having weapons under restrictions and one count of failure to comply with order or signal of a police officer.

But on July 20, after meeting with Kontos about the disadvantages of defendants representing themselves, Walker decided to waive his speedy trial right and hire attorney Mary Ellen Ditchey for a jury trial now scheduled for Kontos’ court on Nov. 29.

In Ohio, defendants who are incarcerated must be tried within 90 days unless they waive that right. Walker has done this several times since his arrest in November 2020.

Juhasz had told the judge at an earlier pretrial hearing that a spate of recent trials in Mahoning County had taken up preparation time for him in Walker’s case.

Authorities have used DNA evidence in their case against Walker, according to affidavits filed with the court.

The document filed by Warren police detective John Greaver shows sheriff’s deputy Ken Romo attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Oct. 17, 2020, in Warren, in which a vehicle driven by Walker accelerated away. During the pursuit, the vehicle braked hard, and Romo said he heard five or six gunshots come from it.

As Romo stopped his cruiser, the affidavit states, the deputy saw the driver side door open and the man reach out with a gun and continue to shoot. One round struck the cruiser’s windshield as the Walker car sped away.

Warren police officer Mario Matash, who was patroling in the area, heard gunshots and saw Walker’s vehicle speeding from the area, and Matash gave chase in his cruiser.

At this time, the driver again cracked his door and fired at the Warren officer. Walker’s car stopped, with the driver and a passenger jumping out and fleeing on foot. Matash saw the driver throw the firearm, which he recovered for DNA analysis, the affidavit states.

Officers learned the vehicle was owned by a woman who told an officer she had rented it to Walker. In the search of the vehicle, officers collected fingerprints and other items that were submitted to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for forensic testing.

A court order allowed saliva samples to be taken from Walker as he sat in Trumbull County jail.

Walker also awaits a fall trial in another violent felony case.

According to police, Walker and Tre’Mon Dukes are charged in connection with an Oct. 5, 2020, shooting in the 100 block of Charles Street NE that wounded a Warren man. Reports showed Jody Hall being treated at St. Joseph Warren Hospital with a major gunshot wound.

In that case, Walker is scheduled to be tried Oct. 4 in Kontos’ court on charges of two counts aggravated robbery, two counts of felonious assault and one count of having weapons under restrictions.

Walker remains in custody in lieu of posting a $500,000 bond.

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