Lima man, acquitted on murder charge, granted new trial

LIMA — A Lima man acquitted nearly three years ago of murder but sentenced to 14 years in prison on felonious assault and weapons charges related to the incident has been granted a new trial through a ruling issued by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Kenneth Cobb, now 63, was charged in the Jan. 15, 2019 the shooting death of Branson Tucker following what was described as a gambling dispute. Testimony at Cobb’s trial revealed the shooting came about as tempers flared during a gambling session at 975 St. Johns Ave., Lima.

Dustin Blake, Cobb’s attorney, told jurors Cobb was protecting himself from physical harm when he shot Tucker in the leg during the confrontation over gambling proceeds.

The trial ended on Jan. 31, 2020, when jurors found Cobb not guilty of murder, ruling he acted in self-defense and was not culpable in Tucker’s death. The same jurors, however, found him guilty of several additional charges.

On Sept. 3, 2020, Cobb was sentenced to eight years behind bars on a felonious assault charge, three years for the attached gun specification and three more years for having a weapon under disability. Judge Terri Kohlrieser, who called her ruling “one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make when it comes to sentencing,” ordered the prison time be served consecutively.

Cobb subsequently appealed the verdict to the Third District Court of Appeals, alleging that his trial lawyer provided ineffective counsel for failing to make a motion to preclude from trial the terms “after hours joint” and/or “gambling establishment.”

The appellate court rejected that argument and denied Cobb’s request for a new trial, however the Ohio Supreme Court late last month vacated that court’s ruling and ordered Cobb’s case to be remanded to the Allen County Common Pleas Court for a new trial.

Cobb has a final pre-trial hearing scheduled for 8 a.m. Monday, with a jury trial scheduled to begin Jan. 9.

Oct. 26, 2022, Ohio Supreme Court vacates the decision of the appeals court and remands the case back to Allen County Common Pleas Court for a new trial.