LIMA — A 24-year-old Lima man was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison for the 2016 shooting death of Wapakoneta resident Ryan VanBuskirk on the streets of south Lima in 2016.
Chaz Jackson was convicted by an Allen County jury on Nov. 7 of involuntary manslaughter with a three-year gun specification in connection with the death of VanBuskirk, who was gunned down on Catalpa Avenue during what was described as a low-level drug deal on Nov. 16, 2016. The jury found him not guilty of murder in VanBuskirk’s death.
His co-defendant in the case, Rione Gray, 22, of Florissant, Missouri, was sentenced in November 2017 to six years in prison for his role in VanBuskirk’s death.
Both Jackson and Gray eluded police for several months following the shooting. Gray was eventually captured in 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. Jackson was arrested in October 2018 in Huntsville, Alabama.
Two individuals who claimed they were at the scene of the murder testified during Jackson’s trial that the Lima man fired the shot that killed VanBuskirk. Melissa Ream, an admitted crack cocaine addict at the time, and Gray, her one-time drug supplier, each told jurors that Jackson shot and killed VanBuskirk as he stood alongside his car on Catalpa Street.
Gray testified that Jackson accompanied him to the corner of Catalpa Street and St. Johns Avenue for the drug transaction. He told jurors that Jackson fired the single shot to the chest that killed VanBuskirk, and Ream said she saw the same incident from across the street.
During Monday’s sentencing hearing, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Anthony Miller asked Judge Jeffrey Reed to impose the maximum possible sentence, which ultimately was reflected in the 14-year term that Reed handed down. A similar request came from VanBuskirk’s 16-year-old son, Jordan, who authored a letter that was read aloud in court by Phyllis Neff of Crime Victim Services.
“To whoever killed my dad, just know that you changed the lives of an entire family,” the letter read in part. “He was my best friend and my confidant, and now I don’t have a dad to rely on. All I have are my memories and a gravesite to look at.”
Jackson, who denied his involvement in VanBuskirk’s death at trial, nonetheless expressed his remorse to the family.
“This whole incident has made me seriously re-evaluate my life,” Jackson said, adding that he will use his time in prison to obtain a GED and to work on becoming a better person for his wife and child.
Upon his release, Jackson said, he intends to “get out of this environment” and to relocate somewhere outside Lima.