A Summit County jury saw graphic images and heard about what prosecutors described Monday as “a very serious problem” in Akron.
In the opening of the capital murder trial of Derrick “Buck” Brantley — the accused shooter in a 2013 execution-like slaying of two young men and two young women inside a Kimlyn Circle apartment near Chapel Hill — jurors heard how prevalent the drug problem has become here.
One of the four victims, Ronald “Dutch” Roberts, “unfortunately got involved with what is becoming a very serious problem in our community, and that is heroin,” Summit Assistant Prosecutor Brian LoPrinzi said in opening statements.
He said Roberts, 24, sold heroin, and made plenty of money doing it.
LoPrinzi said that four boxes of new shoes that Roberts had just purchased were strewn inside the Kimlyn townhouse when a friend found Roberts’ body near the steps leading to the basement.
Only feet away, in what investigators have called one of the city’s most brutal crime scenes, were the bodies of Roberts’ good friend, Kem Rashad Delaney, 23, and two women: Maria Nash, 19, and Roberts’ girlfriend, Kiana “Kiki” Welch, also 19.
All four were shot at least one time in the head in the early hours of April 18, 2013, LoPrinzi said.
As he showed a crime-scene photo of the carnage on a courtroom projection screen to the jury, several family members of the victims who packed all three rows of the public gallery began sobbing uncontrollably.
Common Pleas Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands called a break at that point to remove jurors from the courtroom while sheriff’s deputies and the bailiff restored order. The break took 20 minutes.
“This is over drugs. This is over money. It’s the typical thing we see — greed — when someone gets killed,” LoPrinzi said near the end of his remarks.
Brantley, 22, could face the death penalty if he is convicted. He is charged in a 22-count indictment with four counts of aggravated murder, four counts of aggravated burglary and other crimes.
At the time of the slayings, he was free on bond awaiting trial on felony charges of heroin trafficking.
A co-defendant, Deshanon “Dougie” Haywood, also 22, faces the same serious charges. He is in custody at the Summit County Jail awaiting trial in Rowlands’ court.
Haywood was paroled from prison in February 2012 after serving less than half of the two-year term he received for trafficking cocaine and heroin possession. He violated parole in February 2013, two months before the murders, and was given 45 days of house arrest.
The jury heard stunning details on how freely heroin flows in the city.
A close friend of Roberts’, Isaac Love, 28, testified that on the day before the shootings he was at the townhouse with Roberts, Delaney and others when a package arrived around 8:30 p.m. It contained 100 grams of heroin, he said.
Love, who admitted during testimony that he and Roberts sold heroin as a means of making money, said such an amount would sell on the street for $10,000 to $20,000.
Akron police have said that escalating events during a robbery most likely led to the shootings.
The prosecution’s first witness, Deonte “Big” Woods, 24, told the jury what he saw the night of the shooting. He said he got a call from Haywood, about 11:30 p.m., to follow him somewhere in his car. Brantley was there, too.
Woods said he parked on Gurley Avenue, near Kimlyn, and waited there for several hours.
Haywood and Brantley finally came rushing back to his car, Woods said, and they drove away.
Woods said that Haywood or Brantley — he couldn’t recall which one — then threatened him in the car with this vow: “We’re going to take this to our graves.” He told the jury that he knew it meant he would be killed if he said anything to anyone.
After a one-day break in the trial schedule, testimony resumes Thursday.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or email@example.com.