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Suspect's friend testifies he heard but didn't see shooting

  • ramey-in-court-jpg

    Attorney Anthony Baker talks with his client Darius Ramey in court Thursday, Sept. 8.


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ELYRIA — A friend of Darius Ramey testified Thursday that he saw Ramey raise a handgun he was carrying and point it in the direction of another group of men, but he didn’t see Ramey fire the gun.

Instead, the 16-year-old boy said, he heard the gunshots as he ran from the scene.

Ramey is charged with murder and felonious assault in the fatal shooting of 31-year-old Kenneth Shinafelt once in the head July 11. Although he is 16, prosecutors have asked Lorain County Juvenile Court Judge Lisa Swenski to send the case to the adult criminal justice system.

The friend said that he and Ramey were walking down Reeves Avenue in Lorain when they encountered Shinafelt and another man and the two groups exchanged a few words from opposite sides of the street.

At one point, the friend said, he heard someone from Shinafelt’s group say something like “I got heat for people like you,” which he said was street slang for having a gun.

The two groups of people continued to walk along the street and eventually they came to the area around 2340 Reeves Ave., where the friend said Shinafelt and another man went up onto the porch. He said he thought something was said about firing a gun and then Ramey was pulling his own weapon.

The shooting appears to have taken place at a distance of at least 30 yards.

After the shooting, the friend said, he and Ramey ran to another friend’s house and Ramey told him he was sorry for getting him involved.

Another witness said she later heard Ramey say he was “protecting a friend” when he fired the gun.

Defense attorney Anthony Baker argued during the hearing that while Ramey may have committed involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide, the facts didn’t justify the felonious assault and murder charges his client faces.

He also said it was possible that Shinafelt may have been shot by someone else based on the position he was in when emergency medical personnel arrived about 11:45 p.m. Baker also questioned why only one bullet was recovered from the scene when police have audio of the shooting in which two shots can be heard.

Lorain police Detective Buddy Sivert said it’s not uncommon for investigators to only be able to locate some of the bullets and shell casings from a shooting.

Sivert also testified that although an autopsy report on Shinafelt hasn’t been completed by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office, he has been told that Shinafelt was shot in the right side of the head and the bullet exited on the left side. He also said there was no evidence of gunpowder burns on Shinafelt’s body, something that would have been present if he had been shot at close range.

Shinafelt was badly wounded when police and emergency medical personnel arrived and he was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, where he died the next day.

Police have not recovered the gun used in the shooting, and Sivert said investigators aren’t sure what caliber the weapon was because evidence in the case is being tested.

Ramey turned himself in to police about a week after the shooting and has been held in the county’s Juvenile Detention Home since then.

Baker asked for his client to be released on a personal bond if Swenski decides to send the case to the adult justice system.

Assistant County Prosecutor Amy Price said a $500,000 bond would be more reasonable given the danger she believes Ramey poses to the community since he appears to know where the gun used in the shooting is kept.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.

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