LIMA — The judge in the case of Eric Wilson, the Lima man charged with a variety of felony firearm infractions that include alleged gang activity, took under advisement Thursday a motion to have a Lima Police Department detective disqualified as an expert witness in the case.
Judge Terri Kohlrieser said she would rule in the near future on a motion filed by Wilson’s attorney to have LPD Detective Steve Stechschulte ruled not to qualify as an expert on gang-related activity.
Wilson, 26, was indicted by a grand jury in August of last year on charges of 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. A second suspect, 25-year-old Jamaree Allen, faces identical counts.
The charges are related to gunshots near the intersection of North Cole Street and Edgewood Drive in Lima on June 21, 2019, following the funeral service for Christian Laws. Laws was shot and killed June 14 in the 2400 block of Lark Avenue. Jolade Omosikeji Jr. has been charged with murder in Laws’ death.
Defense Attorney Zach Maisch filed a motion in March to have Stechschulte — a 28-year veteran of the Lima Police Department, the past 14 of those as a detective — ruled ineligible to testify as an expert in gang activities.
Stechschulte testified Thursday to the extensive training he has taken on the subject, including three seminars for peace officers that were held in Chicago. Under questioning by Assistant Allen County Prosecutor Tony Miller, Stechschulte said he over the years has learned to identify individuals and characteristics associated with gang activity. The detective said he is the “go-to guy” for information about gangs in Allen County.
Questioned by Maisch, Stechschulte said there are “at least five or six” different games in Lima, most of which operate as affiliates of either the “North Side” or the “East Side” criminal organizations. The detective told Maisch he has learned over the years to identify gang members “by their actions and by the people they affiliate with.”
The defense attorney said case law cited by the state in claiming Stechschulte as an “expert” in gang activities is invalid.