Murder trial for off-campus shooting begins Monday

Hearings will begin Monday in Mahoning County Municipal Court for the murder trial of Jamail Johnson.

Cambridge Avenue residents Columbus Jones Jr., 22, and Mark Jones, 20, face felony murder charges, which carry life sentences.

Feb. 6 will mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Johnson, a Youngstown State University student and Omega Psi Phi fraternity member. He lost his life in the off-campus shooting that wounded 11 others.

Carl Davidson, a brother of Omega Psi Phi, said he and others from the chapter plan to attend the trial on Monday.  

“Basically, I want to see them pay for the crime that they committed,” Davidson said. “I don’t want to see death [as punishment] because that’s what this all came from.”

Attempts to reach defense counsel for all five defendants were unsuccessful.

Still, Davidson struggles to find an explanation for the “senseless act of violence.”

“There’s still no reason, no justification for it,” he said. “It’s not OK to just start shooting up a house full of people who didn’t even know who they were.”

Johnson’s mother, Shirlene Hill, has found solace in the outreach from Davidson and other Omega Psi Phi members.

“I really don’t even have the words for what it’s been to me,” Hill said. “I can’t thank them enough. My son is gone, and yet they’ve been there for me.”

Davidson said the fraternity brothers now see Hill as a mother and treat her accordingly.

Hill, too, seeks closure and justice.

“I’m glad it’s starting Monday. For those that did the crime, I’m ready for them to pay for what they did to my son,” Hill said.

Since Johnson’s death, a Facebook group commemorating his life has been established; it generated 4,210 “likes” and 505 comments.

Three others will stand trial for charges related to the incident: Brandon Carter, 22, of East Ravenwood Avenue; Jamelle Jackson, 19, of West Boston Avenue; and Demitrius Wright, 21, of West Avondale Avenue.

Carter and Jackson face an obstructing justice charge, a third-degree felony. Wright was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a fourth-degree felony, which carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison.

The hearings will begin Monday at 8:30 a.m. Judge John M. Durkin will preside.