LIMA — A Lima man with a history of criminal convictions involving violence was sentenced Tuesday to a minimum of 19 years in prison as a repeat violent offender.
Anthony Houston, 41, was indicted by a grand jury in December on a count of aggravated burglary, a first-degree felony that included specifications for the use of a firearm and also as a repeat violent offender.
On July 19, after jury selection was already underway in his jury trial, he entered a plea of no contest to the charges against him. Houston later attempted to take back that plea, but a motion to that effect was overruled by Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Terri Kohlrieser.
That was in part because of phone calls placed from the county jail in which Houston was reportedly overheard to “bribe and then threaten the victims in the case” to ensure they would not testify at his trial, according to Assistant Allen County Prosecutor Kyle Thines.
During the September hearing, Kohlrieser had listened to three phone calls made by Houston from jail that she said made it “quite clear to me” that Houston threatened Jordan Crowder into avoiding law enforcement authorities, who attempted to serve a subpoena for his testimony at trial. Another victim, Charles Oberlin, was never located.
According to court documents, a Lima police officer was traveling in the 800 block of North Elizabeth Street around 8:30 p.m. Nov. 4 when he heard a call for help. He saw a man, later identified as Oberlin, running in the street behind him. Oberlin said a Black male — later identified as Houston — had just entered his residence with a gun.
Crowder was seen in the street coming from the direction of Oberlin’s residence, court records show. Crowder told police he ran inside the residence, but the man followed him with a gun, striking him in the head with the weapon.
During Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, the judge said Houston met the necessary requirements for the repeat violent offender specification based upon his 2007 conviction in Summit County on a felonious assault charge; his 2014 conviction in Cuyahoga County for kidnapping and aggravated burglary; and his 2021 conviction for aggravated burglary. The RVO designation added five years to Houston’s prison sentence, while the firearm specification added three more.
Houston said he intends to appeal his conviction.