LIMA — The principal suspect in the Feb. 4 triple homicide at Levels Lounge in downtown Lima entered pleas of not guilty Friday in Allen County Common Pleas Court to charges of murder and other felonies.
Deontray Forrest, 24, of Lima, appeared in court with his Columbus attorney, James Owen, for an arraignment hearing before Judge Jeffrey Reed. Through his attorney, Forrest pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder, unclassified felonies, along with a second-degree felony charge of felonious assault that included gang and firearm specifications. He also pleaded not guilty to having a weapon under disability.
Forrest was also making his initial court appearance after being indicted in March on charges of trafficking cocaine and heroin near a school. He pleaded not guilty to those counts as well.
Officers from the Lima Police Department responded in the early morning hours of Feb. 4 to Levels Lounge, 122 E. North St., in reference to a shooting and found two victims — Terell McGraw, 28, and Devontae Upshaw, 24, both of Lima — dead inside the establishment. A third victim, Timothy White, 25, of Lima, was found on the sidewalk outside the bar. All three victims had suffered gunshot wounds, and all were deceased when police arrived.
The indictment against Forrest specifically charges him with causing the death of White.
Forrest was almost immediately named as a suspect in the case but eluded law enforcement after the incident. Lima detectives had been working with U.S. Marshals in an attempt to apprehend Forrest, and that joint effort yielded dividends on the morning of March 31, when the suspect was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Cleveland.
The owners of Levels Bar in downtown Lima agreed in mid-February to put the property up for sale, effectively halting attempts by the City of Lima to gain a court order that would close the business permanently. A “For Sale” sign remains outside the building.
Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Terri Kohlrieser, responding to the city’s request to shut down the bar, said the issues raised by the city “… constitute, at least in part, extreme violence and major breaches of the public peace and good order, endangering the health, safety and welfare of the patrons of the premises, patrons of other downtown establishments, passersby and the public in general.”