LIMA — A Lima man who eluded police for yearly two years before his capture last month in Alabama was arraigned in Allen County Common Pleas Court Wednesday morning on a murder charge.
Chaz Jackson, 23, was arrested Oct. 25 in Huntsville, Alabama, on charges related to the 2016 shooting death of Wapakoneta resident Ryan VanBuskirk at a Lima residence in what was described in court documents as a drug deal gone wrong. Jackson made his first court appearance in connection with the shooting since being apprehended and returned to Allen County and, through his court-appointed attorney, pleaded not guilty to three charges against him.
Jackson was indicted by an Allen County grand jury on charges of murder, an unclassified felony; involuntary manslaughter, a felony of the first degree; and aggravated robbery, a first degree felony, in connection with the shooting death of Wapakoneta resident Ryan VanBuskirk. The shooting took place Nov. 21, 2016, in the 700 block of Catalpa Avenue in Lima. Two of the charges against Jackson include specifications that a firearm was used during the commission of the crime. Each specification would, upon conviction, add a mandatory three-year prison term to any other sentence Jackson might receive.
Judge Dave Cheney set a pre-trial hearing for Jackson for Nov. 21 and ordered the Lima man’s $1 million bond continued. Jackson then was remanded to the county jail.
Rione Gray, 22, of Florissant, Missouri, was sentenced in November of 2017 to six years in prison for his role in VanBuskirk’s death. Gray and Jackson each were charged with murder. Gray accepted a deal from prosecutors and pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony charge of involuntary manslaughter, with a firearm specification attached.
Former Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Terri Kohlreiser alleged during court proceedings in Gray’s case that it was Jackson who pulled the trigger of the gun that killed the Wapakoneta man, but she noted Gray bore a portion of the responsibility for setting up a drug deal that ultimately led to VanBurskirk’s murder.
Gray eluded authorities for several months and was eventually captured in St. Louis, Missouri.
Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.