December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Bohannon Miller gets 40 years to life in drive-by shooting

Attorney Denise Wilms sits with her client, Bohannon Miller, during his sentencing in Judge James Miraldi's court. Extra deputies were on hand to maintain control. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Attorney Denise Wilms sits with her client, Bohannon Miller, during his sentencing in Judge James Miraldi’s court. Extra deputies were on hand to maintain control. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — During a tense sentencing hearing Wednesday, Bohannon Miller denied he killed Marquis McCall after Miller was found guilty of aggravated murder and other charges in the June 22, 2009, slaying of McCall.

Miller’s denial came as McCall’s mother, Jackie Lewis, was urging Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi to sentence Miller to life without parole.

“I just wish he did the most time because he don’t care about killing my son. He’s not remorseful,” Lewis said before Miller interrupted.

“’Cause I didn’t kill him,” Miller said.

Jurors deliberated about three hours Tuesday and roughly seven more hours on Wednesday before finding Miller guilty.

Miraldi ordered Miller, 23, to serve a total prison sentence of 40 years to life, which he won’t begin serving until he completes the remaining five years on a nine-year prison sentence he already is serving on unrelated gang and weapons charges.

Earlier in the sentencing hearing Miller, who had refused to allow his attorney, Denise Wilms, to speak on his behalf, had insisted he was wrongfully convicted of the gang charges.

Assistant County Prosecutor Sherry Glass also had urged Miraldi to impose the maximum sentence on Miller.

“Marquis McCall is gone and that’s because Bohannon Miller has no respect for human life,” Glass said. “Craig Roberson will never be the same emotionally or physically because the defendant has no respect for human life.”

Roberson was among those with McCall on Long Avenue when police say Miller opened fire from a gold Ford Taurus allegedly driven by Larry Blake. Roberson survived his injuries, but testified during the trial that he didn’t see who shot him.

At one point during the hearing, Miller appeared to agree with Glass’ request for a sentence of life without parole.

“That’s what I suggest, too,” Miller said. “Everything in the clip.”

Miller said later that no one cared about the killing of Christopher Hill, who died from injuries received in a shooting hours before McCall was gunned down in what police and prosecutors described as a revenge slaying.

“The murder won’t be solved,” Miller said.

After the hearing, Lorain Police Capt. Roger Watkins said detectives continue to investigate unsolved homicides in the city, including that of Christopher Hill.

No one is facing charges for Hill’s death, but Avery Taylor and Andrew Lorenzana were briefly charged with murder in the case before those charges were dropped. Police have previously said the two men remain suspects in the case, although Watkins declined Wednesday to discuss the specifics of the ongoing investigation.

Watkins also said that police have poured significant effort into dealing with the gangs that have plagued Lorain. He said Miller’s conviction on the murder charges was a one more step in that process.

“Today was a victory, but we have a few more battles left to fight,” Watkins said.

Miller said he plans to appeal Wednesday’s verdict. A central issue in that appeal will likely be Miraldi’s decision to allow Lorain Police Detective Buddy Sivert to testify about what Raymond Fowler told him.

Fowler, who has told police he was in the car when Miller shot McCall, refused to testify during the trial because he said he had been threatened by Miller and members of the McCall family. Fowler had reached a deal with prosecutors in which he agreed to cooperate with the investigation in exchange for not being charged in connection with the McCall slaying.

Wilms had argued that the decision deprived Miller of his constitutional right to confront his accusers in court, but Miraldi determined that Miller forfeited that right when he threatened Fowler.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.