LIMA — Murder cases pending against two Lima men held in connection with last week’s shooting death of Branson Tucker have been transferred to Allen County Common Pleas Court for grand jury consideration.
Lima Municipal Court Judge Richard Warren ruled during preliminary hearings Tuesday that sufficient cause exists to bind over the cases of Kenneth Cobb, 59, and Jerome Fuqua, 59, both of Lima, to the higher court.
During testimony in the preliminary hearings for both men, Detective Todd Jennings of the Lima Police Department said Cobb admitted firing shots from a handgun that killed Tucker, while Fuqua admitted he had provided the murder weapon.
Tucker, 34, of Lima, was found suffering from a gunshot wound to the torso when police responded at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 15 to a traffic accident in the 600 block of Michael Avenue on Lima’s south side. Jennings testified that Tucker’s body was found partially outside the vehicle when police arrived. He died a short time later at Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center.
Fuqua and Cobb were taken into custody later that day.
During his time on the witness stand Tuesday, Jennings said the men have offered accounts of the incident that are similar in some respects and slightly different in others. Both agreed the shooting took place at 975 St. Johns Ave. The detective testified that Cobb told police the incident was the result of “a robbery gone awry,” but two other persons who reportedly were at the St. Johns Avenue residence said Tucker was shot due to a “disagreement over gambling,” Jennings said.
Jennings said a statement made by Fuqua after the shooting also alleged gambling was taking place at the location when a disagreement broke out. Jennings testified that Fuqua told police he had a handgun in his pocket and “he handed it to Kenny (Cobb), who fired the shot” that killed Branson Tucker.
“So Mr. Cobb admitted firing the shot?” asked Andrea Henning, Fuqua’s court-appointed attorney.
“Yes,” Jennings responded.
In binding Fuqua’s case over the common pleas court, Warren said Fuqua can be prosecuted as a principal offender “even if he may not have fired the gun” that led to Tucker’s death.
Jennings testified that Cobb told police he was gambling with Tucker when he was struck by an unnamed person. Cobb reportedly told investigators he took a gun from Tucker and fired it, attempting to shoot Tucker in the leg. “But actually the gun was handed to Cobb by Mr. Fuqua,” Jennings testified.
Bond was continued at $1 million for both men.
Police have described the location of the shooting, described in police records as 975-977 St. Johns Ave., as an after-hours establishment that also serves as Fuqua’s residence. Cobb’s address is listed in court records as 1120 S. Reese Ave.
After the shooting a search warrant was obtained for the St. Johns Avenue site. Lima police detectives and crime scene investigators processed the scene for evidence, according to a spokesman for the Lima Police Department.
Fuqua has an extensive criminal background, having previously pleaded guilty to obstructing official business in 2018; possession of drugs in 2000; disorderly conduct in 2015; possession of drug paraphernalia in 1994 and assault in 1990. His record also shows a string of traffic offenses, including eight citations for driving under suspension.
Cobb has previously been arrested or cited for possession of dangerous drugs, violating building codes, illegal alcohol sales, possession of drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia, aggravated drug trafficking, loitering and drug-related activity and public indecency, among other charges.