Golsby guilty of all counts in Tokes murder trial

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    A jury found Brian Golsby guilty on all counts in the rape and murder of Ohio State University student Reagan Tokes at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in Columbus on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, on what would have been Reagan's 23rd birthday. Tokes' parents, Toby and Lisa McCrary-Tokes, and her younger sister, Makenzie, held hands and wept as the verdicts were read.

    Barbara J. Perenic

  • COLUMBUS — The family of former Monclova Township resident Reagan Tokes began to sob Tuesday as a Franklin County jury convicted Brian Lee Golsby on all counts in her murder.

    Tuesday would have been her 23rd birthday.

    Golsby was found guilty on nine counts, including multiple counts of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, rape, and tampering with evidence. The murder charges carry specifications that could lead to the death penalty. The sentencing phase will begin Friday.

    The verdict came after jurors deliberated for more than five hours. 

    During closing arguments, Reagan Tokes' younger sister Makenzie placed her head in her mother's lap as Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Rausch described what happened the night that Reagan met “every woman's nightmare.”

    Golsby “kidnapped her. He robbed her. He raped her, and then he executed her,” she told the jury in front of Common Pleas Judge Mark Serrott.

    RELATED: Golsby confessed to killing Tokes, witnesses say

    Defense attorney Diane Menashe conceded that Golsby was guilty of aggravated murder with purpose and took off the table any notion that a third person named TJ was in the car with them on the night of Feb. 8, 2017, and was the one who shot Ms. Tokes.

    And she also tried to turn the fact that a GPS ankle bracelet monitor traced his every step that night into an advantage in challenging his intent to kill Ms.Tokes to avoid getting caught.

    “If Mr. Golsby didn't want to get caught, then he shouldn't have worn the GPS bracelet,” she said. “For days he wore that bracelet. Not only didn't he remove it, he charged it — so it would really be accurate.”

    GPS data points on a map placed him at the same location that Ms. Tokes was known to be during the more than two hours that they were together. DNA tied Golsby, 30, to Ms. Tokes' body and her car and tied Ms. Tokes to the gun used to shoot her twice in the head near the entrance gate of Scioto Grove Metro Park in Grove City south of Columbus.

    Golsby was seen driving Ms. Tokes' car after her murder, and he confessed to the two people perhaps closest to him — Jennifer Nickell, his 6-year-old daughter's mother, and Brittney Stepp, a woman he called “Sis.”

    “All the puzzle pieces fit,” Ms. Rausch said.

    Golsby had been recently released from prison after completing a sentence for attempted rape. He was staying at a halfway house and was equipped with a GPS monitor that was not being tracked in real time. But police later used the data the device gathered to retrace his steps.

    Ms. Tokes, a graduate of Anthony Wayne High School, was three months shy of getting her degree in psychology from Ohio State University. Prosecutors said she ran into Golsby as she left work at Bodega Cafe in the Short North area of Columbus to walk to her car.

    The data showed Golsby had been wandering the area on foot for some time until the dot on the map intersected with where Ms. Tokes usually parked her car. Over more than two hours Ms. Tokes was raped and forced to withdraw $60 during repeated attempts at automated teller machines. And then she was shot at the park where her nude body was found the next day in the light snow.

    The prosecution contends that Ms. Tokes did all that Golsby asked of her in order to survive. Her reward?

    “He has her walk to her death,” Ms. Rausch said. “There's mud on her foot.”

    Ms. Menashe conceded that it was Golsby who shot Ms. Tokes.

    “Let's just take TJ out of it,” she said. “TJ's Brian.”

    She told the jury that the fact that Golsby was still wearing the GPS unit and drove around town in Ms. Tokes’ car after the murder suggested he wasn't smart enough to plan the murder. Instead, she said he panicked in the moment when he killed Ms. Tokes.

    “Why else would he kill her?” she asked. “Because he was scared.”

    The difference between the two could mean the difference between a death sentence and life in prison for Golsby.

    Contact Jim Provance at jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.