36-year-old Ian Cultrona listens as Judge Edward O'Farrell reads the first of four guilty verdicts handed down by the trial jury. (Photo by Stacey Carmany, Tusco TV)
New Philadelphia, Ohio - A 36-year-old Coshocton man now faces prison time for his role a robbery turned shooting that injured a Newcomerstown teen.
Jurors handed down their verdict against Ian Cultrona Wednesday after more than eight hours of deliberation. They acquitted him on the conspiracy charge but found him guilty on one count of aggravated robbery and three counts of felonious assault with three-year firearm specifications.
The verdict comes as a milestone in a case that has been unraveling since last December when a 20-year-old Newcomerstown and two teenage passengers were ambushed by masked gunmen during a drug deal on Liberty Road. Tuscarawas County Prosecutor Ryan Styer said they were pleased with the outcome.
“He’s essentially guilty of the first-degree felony aggravated robbery. He is guilty of three felonious assaults, second-degree felonies with gun specifications, and so gives him a lot of exposure at sentencing to a very large prison sentence,” he says.
Cultrona was also indicted on three counts of attempted murder, one for each of the three robbery victims. Styer says Judge Edward O’Farrell declared a mistrial on those charges after jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
“Essentially what happened was the jury rendered verdicts on everything but the three attempted murder charges. They were deadlocked on those, so a mistrial is what is declared when a jury is deadlocked,” he explains.
Prosecutors last month offered Cultrona an opportunity to plead guilty to one count of aggravated robbery and a three-year gun specification with a 12-year sentence recommendation. Styer says it seems he should have taken that deal.
“As the evidence became more and more clear as we presented it at the trial, I think that offer of 12 years was a gift that he should have taken,” he says. “I think his level of culpability as demonstrated in the evidence is more than we even thought.”
Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Detective Lt. Jeff Moore says he hopes the verdict sends a strong message to the other two men charged in this case.
“I think this trial here will help send a message that there is sufficient evidence, and I believe their cases are even stronger. This was the weakest case that we had at the time that we presented this.
Cultrona will be sentenced on the convicted charges at a later date. Styer says he will serve a minimum of three years in prison for the gun charge and faces a maximum possible sentence of 38 years.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV