Two men were found guilty of murder and intimidating a witness for the 2012 slaying of a Columbus man in Harlem Township.
Reginald Timothy Conley, 28, of Lucasville and Jermaine Darnell Kelly, 32, of Columbus were found guilty Friday of two counts of murder and one count of intimidation of a witness in a criminal case, a third-degree felony. Additionally they were both found guilty of firearm specifications and gang specifications, both of which could add years to any potential prison term.
Additionally, Kelly was found guilty of two counts of having weapons under disability, third-degree felonies.
At the men’s arraignments, Delaware County Common Pleas Judge Everett Krueger told the men that the murder charges carry between 15 years and life in prison.
“We’re grateful to the jury for their service and that justice has been done for the Gervins family,” First Assistant County Prosecutor Kyle Rohrer said after the verdict Friday night. Rohrer also praised the work of the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office.
Eariler that day both sides presented closing arguments to the jury. The case was given to the jury around noon and the members rendered a verdict around 7:30 p.m.
During closing statements, Rohrer said that on Nov. 9, 2012, Conley and Kelly drove a third man, Dontee Gervins, to Red Bank Road in Harlem Township, shot him and then left him for dead.
Rohrer said Gervins made it to a home on Red Bank Road and banged on the door, telling the resident that he had been shot. The resident testified on Monday that she heard the banging and called 9-1-1.
Gervins died in Riverside Methodist Hospital nine days later, prosecutors said.
Assistant County Prosecutor Douglas Dumolt alleged in his closing arguments that Gervins was killed because he was the only person who could identify Conley’s involvement in an October 2012 double homicide on Gault Street in Columbus.
Prosecutors highlighted cell phone GPS data and call logs to show that Kelly’s, Conley’s and Gervins’ phones traveled to the area of southern Delaware County and only Conley and Kelly’s phones returned. Defense attorneys Scott Gordon and Kirk McVay disputed the accuracy of these records in their closing arguments and said their evidence is entirely circumstantial.
“They could convict Mr. Conley any day of the week if only evidence would not get in the way,” Gordon repeated several times during his closing statements. Gordon also pointed out to the jury that prosecutors had not been able to locate the murder weapon.
Similarly, McVay said there was no proof that Kelly was with Conley and said there was no DNA in the vehicle that prosecutors said Kelly and Conley used to drive Gervins to Delaware County.
“This is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt, folks,” McVay said. “This is reasonable doubt.”
Rohrer’s defended the investigation in his closing statements and said the cell phone data, record phone calls and witness testimony were strong enough to convict the pair of men with killing Gervins. Rohrer said in total detectives had 13 binders of discs full of testimony, calls and other information from the case.
Dumolt and Rohrer both discussed a recorded phone call from the Franklin County Jail between a man named Jonathan Dantzler, one of the other parties involved in the Gault Street shooting, and Jermaine Kelly. The call was made hours after the shooting and featured Kelly telling Dantzler that he was just with Twice (Conley’s street name) and they had just “got a little deer.”
“I hope we shot good,” Kelly says on the call. Gordon and McVay pointed out that the quality of the recording is not clear and too hard to understand.
Rohrer encouraged the jury to listen to the call as many times as they wanted to.
“Listen to that,” Rohrer told the jury. “That is a confession to murder.”
Conley and Kelly were in the Delaware County Jail Friday evening awaiting their sentencing hearings. Those are scheduled for 9 a.m. March 14.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.