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Two arrested, one wanted in Akron man’s slaying; new state database helps detectives

By Phil Trexler
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Akron police detectives used Ohio’s new facial recognition database to identify a suspect accused of carrying out the city’s first homicide of the year.

Charles Fortson, 37, was arrested within 24 hours of Monday’s robbery and shooting death of Marshall Jones. He and two others are accused of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery.

Jones, 26, was robbed of his gun and marijuana and was shot multiple times while riding Monday afternoon with three men in an SUV.

His body was found in the road on Noble Avenue.

Fortson and Devante Scurry, 19, both of Akron, are being held in the Summit County Jail under $1 million bonds set after their initial appearance Wednesday in Akron Municipal Court.

Police were still looking for a third suspect, Ronald L. Bishop, 27.

Jones’ killing was Akron’s first homicide of 2014. With the filing of warrants in that investigation, Akron police detectives have closed 25 of the city’s last 26 homicides, dating back to last year, with arrests.

Detective Lt. David Whiddon said the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway database, also called OHLEG, was used to put a name on a photograph obtained during the early stages of the slaying investigation.

Detectives obtained the photograph from an undisclosed source, Whiddon said. The image was run through the OHLEG database, which contains photos of Ohio’s licensed drivers and police mug shots.

The system’s facial recognition software tossed back Forston as a potential match. Follow-up interviews led to Forston’s arrest Tuesday.

Whiddon said he believes Forston was the first homicide suspect developed by Akron police detectives using the facial recognition software. He said the software has been used previously only to identify deceased persons.

“We’ve just started using it and we’ve had some successes with it,” he said. “But this is definitely the first major crime we’ve solved with it.”

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine introduced the facial recognition software to Ohio law enforcement agencies in 2013.

The technology works much like the state’s fingerprint database. Rather than using measuring points from each person’s unique fingerprint, however, the software focuses on the face and its individual aspects.

Unlike the state’s fingerprint database, which contains mostly prints from people previously arrested, the facial database draws from a pool of people who obtained Ohio driver’s licenses or state ID cards as well as jail or police photos.

A spokeswoman for DeWine’s office said she was unaware of any other homicide cases closed as a result of the facial recognition software.

Anyone with information on Bishop’s whereabouts is asked to contact Akron police at 330-375-2490.

Information may also be provided anonymously by calling Summit County Crimestoppers at 330-434-COPS(2677) or by texting TIPSCO plus the tip to 274637. Tipsters may qualify for a cash reward.

Tips can also be sent to the U.S. Marshals Service at 1-866-4 WANTED.

Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or ptrexler@thebeaconjournal.com. He can be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PhilTrexler.


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