Tuesday, Nov 21, 2017
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Youth connected to fatal shooting sentenced in juvenile court

A teenager who set up a January drug deal that led to a West Toledo man being shot took full responsibility for his actions before a judge Monday.

“I can’t blame anyone but myself,” Dejion Staples-Pressley, now 18, told Lucas County Juvenile Court Judge Connie Zemmelman when he was sentenced to a minimum of six months in the Lucas County Youth Treatment Center for two counts of complicity, both first-degree felonies. 

Investigators said Brian Roberts, 42, and another man met Staples-Pressley, then 17, and his co-defendant, Cayvon Wells, 17, for a drug deal in January in the 2000 block of Barrows Street. Staples-Pressley previously testified he planned to rob the men of drugs and use profits from the robbery to make music in a studio. 

Prosecutors believe the Wells youth shot Mr. Roberts during a scuffle. Mr. Roberts died of a single gunshot wound to the chest, according to the Lucas County Coroner’s Office. The Wells youth is charged with murder and aggravated robbery — both first-degree felonies. He is being tried as an adult.

Judge Zemmelman addressed Mr.Roberts’ mother, who sat in the court pews behind Staples-Pressley. She wrapped her arms around herself as she cried.

“I can’t imagine what you’re going through,” the judge told the mother, who lost her only son.

Lori Olender, deputy chief of the juvenile division of the county prosecutor’s office, argued that sending the youth to the treatment center doesn’t send the right message to other offenders. In juvenile court alone, there have been six homicide-related cases this year, she said.

“The message that this sends to other youths who get involved in this, it doesn’t matter that he has no record, he started at the top,” she said. “He didn’t pick something small and gradually go up to it. That doesn’t make it any less severe... We’re talking about the loss of a life and it’s at his hand because as he testified, your Honor, in court, he is the one who set up the drug deal and the person with the gun came later. He knows this person to carry a gun.”

Jane Roman, attorney for Staples-Pressley, said while his family is thankful he is getting the assistance he needs, they feel compassion and empathy for the victim’s family.

“Most obviously, the most difficultly is for the victim’s family. [Mr. Roberts] was an only child. Dejion will be returning to his family some day, but this victim will not,” she said.

He scored in the “moderate” range in a state youth assessment test. Assessment officers questioned Staples-Pressley’s feeling of responsibility for the offense.

The Lucas County Youth Treatment Center seeks to rehabilitate juvenile offenders. Programming there varies for each person, although any bad behavior or sign that Staples-Pressley may not be rehabilitated could send him to the Ohio Department of Youth Services until he is 21, Judge Zemmelman said. 

Contact Allison Reamer at areamer@theblade.com, 419-724-6506 or on Twitter @AllisonRBlade.

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