Trial Continues in Meigs Homicide Case
Editor’s Note: All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Some of the information in this story may be disturbing to some readers. Some information may be considered graphic.
POMEROY, Ohio – The murder trial continued with a greater outline of the injuries to the victim, law enforcement involved and more.
The second day of the Jaquan Hall trial began with a ruling from Judge Linda Warner on a motion filed by the defense to declare a mistrial.
Hall is facing multiple charges in the death of Kane Roush on April 4, 2021. Roush died due to multiple gun shot and shot gun wounds. Hall along with Keonte Nelson and Richard Walker have been indicted for their alleged collective involvement in the death of Roush. Each are being tried separately. The first to go to trial is Jaquan Hall.
Following a week long jury selection process, the trial began September 27 with an opening statement from Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney James K. Stanley. Defense counsel for Hall, George Cosenza, filed a motion to declare a mistrial following the opening statement. Judge Warner recessed for the day to decide on a ruling on the motion. (See link below for information on yesterday’s proceedings.)
Before the jury was brought into the courtroom, Judge Warner said the instructions to the jury are clear that opening statements are not evidence. She further stated that the context was Hall was a potential shooting victim and not a suspect with his interaction with Charleston Police Department. She noted she would give the instructions again to the jury and urged the state to “tread lightly” concerning what Hall did or did not do related to his interaction with the Charleston Police Department. She then denied the motion and the trial continued.
Defense Opening Statement
The jury was brought into the courtroom and Cosenza presented his opening statement. He began by acknowledging that Roush died a “terrible death.” He talked about how Hall met Roush at the University of Charleston while the two were playing football for the college. He said that the two became friends. He also stated that Roush sold marijuana and Hall would buy it from him. Cosenza went on to state, “There was no bad blood between these two men.”
During the opening statement from the state the day before, Stanley noted when investigators asked about someone possibly having issue with Roush, only Hall’s name was mentioned. Cosenza maintained that was not the issue between the two in the opening statement. He said the state was asking jurors not to believe Roush. Roush was reportedly heard stating who shot him was “some black dude.” Cosenza stated Roush knew Hall. If it had been Hall, why would Roush not name him he proposed to the jury. Additionally, Cosenza said Walker was not known to Roush.
“At one point the state believed Richard Walker committed this murder,” Cosenza said. Walker is set to testify for the prosecution and expected to identify Hall as the one that shot Roush with a shot gun at point blank range. Cosenza said Walker had changed his story multiple times to law enforcement, so how could he now be believed. “His testimony is subject to grave suspicion,” he said referring to Walker.
Cosenza stated there was no scientific evidence tying Hall to the murder. He also noted that Hall had been shot by the same weapon Roush had been.
Following Cosenza’s opening statement, Judge Warner went through the rights as previously discussed of defendant Hall’s rights including not to testify and that was not to be considered incriminating.
State Calls First Witness
The first witness called by the prosecution was a neighbor of Roush. David Berry said he had known Roush for 14 to 15 years. He said on April 4, 2021 at 4:45 a.m. he was asleep, but woke up when he heard shouting. He said it sounded like an altercation was taking place and then he heard at least two shot gun blasts. Berry said he called 911 and reported what he heard, and law enforcement needed to check it out. He then went outside to find Roush on the ground. Roush said he needed to go to the hospital.
“I saw him laying there covered in blood,” Berry said. Upon seeing Roush, he went back into the house to get the phone and called 911 again informing them to “roll EMS.”
“I don’t know some black guy,” Berry said Roush answered when Berry asked him who had shot him. Berry said Roush asked to be rolled over as he was having difficulty breathing. “He was literally saturated in blood,” Berry said on the witness stand.
Berry testified two Meigs County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived on the scene as well as a Middleport Police Officer followed by EMS. He said he moved out of the way to allow them to do their work trying to save Roush’s life.
It was still dark when the incident happened. Berry said he did not see much until the sun came up and then the trail became evident. Roush had somehow made his way with what would be fatal injuries from his house to his neighbor’s home. Photos of the crime scene were admitted into evidence by the state.
Berry at times was visibly having difficulty recounting the events of April 4, 2021. He wiped tears as he spoke through much of his testimony.
The defense did not cross examine this witness.
Another Neighbor Testifies
Thomas Allen testified he was a neighbor of Roush as well. Instead of being next to Roush’s house, Allen’s home was down the hill in front of Roush’s home.
He said he heard shots that morning, three shots and then possibly two more shots. He could tell it was some type of gun being fired. He heard male voices and maybe what he thought could be a woman’s voice. He got up and listened for more activity. He went out his front door and walked around to his backyard, but did not see anyone. He said he could hear Roush’s voice calling for his other neighbor, but did not see him. Law enforcement then arrived on the scene. Allen said he directed them where to go. Allen said he did not go up the hill.
In the daylight, he noticed what looked like a shot through his gutters. He testified the gutters were new and did not have any holes in them previously. He believed it was a bullet hole in the gutter at the corner of his house. He believed the bullet went through the gutter and then ricocheted off his chimney. He looked with deputies around the yard, but they did not find a bullet.
The defense did not cross examine this witness either.
Law Enforcement and Medical Personnel Testify
Stephen Vincent was an advanced EMT working for Meigs County EMS on April 4, 2021. (He has since become a paramedic.) Vincent testified to arriving on the scene at Legion Terrace that morning. He said Roush was still “with it” when he began trying to treat Roush’s multiple wounds. He said Roush was initially able to speak and said to Vincent, “Don’t let me die.”
Vincent described the bullet wounds across Roush’s shoulders and back. He said they worked to try to stabilize Roush and loaded him on the squad. Vincent said right after being loaded on the vehicle Roush went unresponsive. He did not become responsive again. There was a change in the EKG and Roush went into cardiac arrest. Vincent said Roush was transported to the Holzer Meigs Emergency Department and loaded into the trauma bay. Despite the efforts of the medical staff, the injuries were too severe. Vincent was present when Roush succumbed to his injuries.
On cross examination, Cosenza only asked about times of the call, but Vincent said without the report, he did not know.
The prosecution did not have any redict questioning.
Sgt. Donald Mohler took the stand next for the prosecution. He was the shift supervisor on the fateful day in April 2021. He testified to being dispatched to Legion Terrace for a “shots fired call.” Upon arrival to the scene, he saw a male subject on the ground with at least two gun shot wounds. He said two officers were left with EMS and the victim while Deputy Scott Spiker and Mohler secured the scene. They quickly cleared the house for anyone else. Sgt. Mohler said they found no one else. Upon entering the house, he said it was obvious something had happened as he noted rounds of ammo on the floor and the general state of the house.
Sgt. Mohler said described the procedures law enforcement went through with the scene. He said he saw two spent shot gun rounds and a black pair of shorts in the roadway. He marked the place where the items were, but moved them as EMS needed to leave with Roush. He said he moved them to preserve evidence. The items were placed in bags and marked. Sgt. Mohler said he went to the Emergency Department too. He was going to try to speak with Roush, but did not have the opportunity before he passed. Sgt. Mohler said he assisted back at the scene until agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) arrived. He then went back to the Emergency Department to assist the coroner’s assistant. He also briefed Sheriff Keith Wood on what was happening.
One of the things that Sgt. Mohler also noted in testimony was the appearance of a Crown Royal bag on another deputy’s cruiser. He said the bag was found placed on the car that morning with ammo matching what had been used in the shooting inside of it.
On cross examination Cosenza focused on the moving of evidence from the roadway, questioning why it was not photographed at least first. Sgt. Mohler said the priority was to get treatment at the hospital for Roush and EMS had to get through the roadway. Cosenza questioned why Mohler did not use his cell phone to take a picture of the evidence in place. On redirect, Mohler testified that using a personal cell phone was against the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office policy.
Deputy Marty Hutton testified next stating he was one of the first law enforcement officers on the scene. He testified to the multiple gun shot wounds sustained by Roush. He also helped to go through the inside of the house later, specifically the basement to clear it. He said that he could see the holes from the inside of the bird shot had peppered part of the garage door.
Susan Mansfield, Meigs County Coroner’s Investigator testified to the traumatic wounds Roush recieved. “It was obvious,” she said of the need for an autopsy that this was a homicide.
On cross examination, she was asked about when her report was done and she stated it was as she was observing Roush’s body in the Emergency Department and some of the report was completed after speaking with others to gather information. There was no redirect questioning from the prosecution.
Meigs County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Brandy King testified when she signed on to duty on April 4, 2021 she was directed to go to the Emergency Department to see Sgt. Mohler. She then went to the crime scene. She assisted a BCI agent in searching for evidence in Roush’s residence. She did not collect evidence, but assisted in looking through the house. She noted there was marijuana paraphernalia including “bongs and scales” along with large bags which had marijuana residue in them. There were bags in the kitchen and in the basement.
On cross examination, Cosenza asked about the size of the bags. She stated they were “large bags.” He then asked that based on her law enforcement experience would the person at this residence be trafficking in drugs. She stated it did. There were no redirect questions from the state.
A forensic pathologist from the Montgomery County Coroners Office testified concerning the autopsy performed on Roush’s body. Roush sustained four shot gun wounds and four gun shot wounds according to the autopsy findings. While there were exit wounds to the front, the shots were fired to the back of Roush’s body and not the front. Among injuries Roush suffered were injury to the liver, fractured rib, fractured scapula, fractured femur, diaphram and more. Roush had been shot at close range with a shotgun multiple times leaving two large gapping holes in his shoulders. The injuries were horrendous and ultimately proved fatal.
Danielle Runyon was called to testify by the state next. She said she met Hall on Tinder, but kept going back and forth on if it was in 2018 or 2019. She said by Thanksgiving 2020 the relationship was falling apart. She had known Roush from high school and reconnected with him around that time. She stated of the relationship with Hall though, “We were never a couple.”
She said it ended with Hall in March 2021. Roush went to UC and so did Hall, so they all knew each other. She said Hall bought marijuana from Roush. She stated she never went with Hall to Roush’s house to purchase marijuana, but she knew Hall had been there. She said she had seen evidence of trafficking in marijuana with “little baggies” of it. She said she had heard Roush sold it in larger amounts though.
On the morning of Roush’s murder, a friend informed her of Roush’s passing. She said she was still on “good terms” with Hall and considered him a best friend. She tried to call Hall and then called Hall’s mother trying to speak with him. Eventually she was able to contact him. She said he seemed like everything was fine. When she told him that someone had killed Roush, he went silent. She said she had a “gut feeling” that Hall was the first person she thought of to have committed the murder, but according to later testimony on cross examination, changed her mind. She had occasional communication with Hall until she received the subpoena for the case.
On cross examination, Cosenza asked her about meeting Hall in hotels in Beckley and Charleston for sex. “I don’t remember having sex,” she said.
She also testified she never heard Hall threaten Roush. She was having sexual relations with both Roush and Hall in the same time frame. She said she had no proof that Hall knew she was involved with Roush. She also stated had she believed Hall was responsible for Roush’s murder, she would not have continued to communicate with him.
Deputy James Riley III then testified as an evidence technician for the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office. During his time on the stand evidence bags were unsealed with the two shells found by Sgt. Mohler and the black pair of shorts. The process of the chain of evidence was questioned and explained in as much as Deputy Riley had involvement in it. Others are expected to testify later in the trial further on the chain of custody for evidence.
The second day of the trial ended at 3:32 p.m. It is scheduled to resume at 8:45 a.m. on September 29. The jury was reminded of the admonition from Judge Warner.