LIMA — Tensions in the courtroom of Judge David Cheney were palpable Tuesday as the murder trial of 20-year-old Lima resident Cory Jackson got underway in Allen County Common Pleas Court.
Jackson is accused of shooting 20-year-old Amari Gooding to death outside the Main Street Irish Pub in the early-morning hours of Oct. 8, 2016.
Testimony from witnesses was at times argumentative and reluctant, especially on cross-examination from Defense Attorney Bill Kluge. Attorneys for both the state and defense interrupted the proceedings repeatedly with objections ranging from hearsay evidence to the relevance of testimony, and the courtroom at one point was cleared at Cheney’s direction of a handful of loud and rowdy family members or friends of some of the trial’s participants.
The key witness called to the stand Tuesday by prosecutors was Trey Ackles, who testified he was robbed at gunpoint by Jackson in the parking lot of the Main Street Pub just moments before the fatal shooting on the night in question. Ackles said Jackson approached him inside the pub and asked Ackles to step outside the bar. Once outside, Ackles said Jackson “pulled his gun out, stuck it in my stomach and told me to empty my pockets.” Jackson allegedly took more than $200 from Ackles, who also testified that the defendant “hit me in the mouth with his gun and knocked my tooth out.”
Patrolman Scott Leudeke of the Lima Police Department, who had been summoned to Mercy Health-St. Rita’s on the night Amari Gooding was shot, testified that he made contact with Ackles in the hospital that night and that Ackles was “missing a front tooth” and was “visibly upset and not very cooperative.”
Ackles testified that after he had been robbed and assaulted by Jackson that Gooding and another friend came out into the parking lot of the pub. Ackles told jurors that Jackson still had his gun drawn and that Gooding pulled up his shirt to show he was not armed. “And that’s when Cory shot him,” Ackles testified.
Earlier in the proceedings, jurors heard from Juerell Wilson, who described Gooding as “my little cousin.” Wilson became emotional on the witness stand as he recalled walking into the parking lot of the downtown Lima bar on the evening of Oct. 8, 2016, and hearing a gun shot.
He recalled how Gooding said he had been shot but still managed to walk to Wilson’s Ford Bronco. Wilson sped off toward the hospital with police in pursuit. The Bronco was stopped less than a block from the hospital’s emergency room. When police learned there was a gunshot victim in the vehicle an officer drove the victim to the hospital’s emergency room. Gooding died shortly after arriving at the hospital, Leudeke testified.
Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.