LIMA — “Unbelievable, unreliable and just not true.”
That is how Defense Attorney Anthony Vannoy characterized for jurors the testimony they would hear as the murder trial of Chaz Jackson got underway Tuesday in Allen County Common Pleas Court.
Vannoy said his client was not at the scene near the intersection of St. Johns Avenue and Catalpa Street on the evening of Nov. 21, 2016, when Wapakoneta resident Ryan VanBuskirk was shot and killed during what was described as a drug deal gone bad.
“Chaz wasn’t there. He was home playing video games. He had no contact with Ryan VanBuskirk and he is not responsible for his death,” the attorney said.
Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Miller painted a different picture for jurors in his opening statements, stating that testimony will show Jackson fired a single shot into the chest of VanBuskirk that resulted in the Wapak man’s death during what was to have been a routine drug transaction.
After eluding police for nearly two years, Miller said, Jackson was arrested last fall in Huntsville, Alabama, on charges related to the Nov. 21, 2016, shooting death of VanBuskirk at a residence in the 700 block of Catalpa Street, near the intersection of St. Johns Avenue in Lima.
Jackson, 24, was indicted in June 2017 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 VanBuskirk’s death. Two of the charges against Jackson include specifications that a firearm was used during the commission of the crime.
The state’s first witness was Waynesfield resident Kaylee Zimmerman, who testified that she was addicted to painkillers in November 2016 and turned to VanBuskirk to help her find a fix. Zimmerman, who is now clean and sober, said she met VanBuskirk in Lima on the evening in question, gave him some money to buy the pills and went to the parking lot of a business on Kibby Street to wait for him. He never returned.
The bulk of Tuesday’s testimony came from members of the Lima Police Department, who recounted finding VanBuskirk lying face down on the ground along the sidewalk near the intersection of Catalpa Street and St. Johns Avenue. Greg Adkins, an identification officer for the LPD, said he tracked blood from VanBuskirk’s vehicle, which was parked along Catalpa Street, across the street and onto the sidewalk, where the body was found.
Adkins also testified that an unloaded 9mm handgun was found under the seat of VanBuskirk’s vehicle and a clip of 9mm ammunition was found in the car’s console.