LIMA — One of the two Lima men facing gang-related and weapons charges in connection with a public shootout earlier this year following the funeral of a young murder victim has decided to represent himself at trial.
Eric Wilson Jr., 25, who is facing up to eight decades behind bars if convicted of all the charges against him, appeared in Allen County Common Pleas Court on Thursday and — over the repeated recommendations of Judge Terri Kohlrieser that he would be best served by the appointment of a new attorney — said he wished to proceed in his case without a lawyer.
Wilson started the hearing by expressing dissatisfaction with his court-appointed attorney, Athena Nyers, who reportedly is experiencing what Kohlrieser described as “serious medical issues.” The judge offered to appoint a new court-appointed lawyer to represent Wilson, but he declined.
Kohlrieser spent the next hour going over Wilson’s rights and how his decision would affect all stages of the legal proceedings in his case. Throughout that discussion, the judge several times attempted to persuade Wilson to allow a new lawyer to be appointed to represent him.
“In my opinion, a trained lawyer would defend you far better than you are able to defend yourself. I strongly urge you not to represent yourself,” Kohlrieser said. “Do you still desire to represent yourself?”
As he did repeatedly throughout the hearing, Wilson answered politely and respectfully, “Yes, your honor.”
Wilson and Jamaree Allen, 24, were each charged with participating in a criminal gang with a firearm specification; two counts of felonious assault with firearm and criminal gang activity specifications; two counts of discharging a firearm into a habitation; carrying a concealed weapon; improper handling of firearms in a motor vehicle and having weapons under disability.
The charges are related to gunshots discharged near the intersection of North Cole Street and Edgewood Drive in Lima on June 21, shortly after a funeral service for 19-year-old Christian Laws had concluded in the 1800 block of North Cole Street. Laws was shot and killed June 14 in the 2400 block of Lark Avenue. Jolade Reginald Omosikeji Jr. has been charged with murder in Laws’ death.
According to court documents, Lima police officers were dispatched to the scene after receiving several reports of shots being fired. Multiple houses and one vehicle were found to have been struck by gunfire, and “numerous bullet casings” were found beside a car wash at 1301 Edgewood Drive.
Witnesses said two black males exited a vehicle in front of Wally’s Fillin’ Station and ran toward the car wash when they starting firing their weapons. A passenger in a blue pickup truck, identified as Romelo Blackman, reportedly was the target. Wilson and Allen were identified as the subjects who exited the vehicle in question and fired the shots toward the pickup.
Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Juergen Waldick said his office elected to pursue charges of participating in gang activity and additional criminal gang activity specifications against Allen and Wilson to send a message that violent gun crimes will not be tolerated.