New Philadelphia, Ohio - Attorneys are expected to deliver their closing arguments today in the trial of a Coshocton man facing up to 25 years in prison for his alleged role in an attempted robbery turned shooting that injured a Newcomerstown teen.
36-year-old Ian Cultrona is accused of conspiring with three people to rob a 20-year-old Newcomerstown man by luring him to a remote area outside of Newcomerstown for a drug deal.
So far, jurors have learned that one of the robbers opened fire on the victim’s SUV when he and his two teenage passengers attempted to flee the scene. They’ve also learned that two of the robbers believed to be Lambes and Casteel chased them for four miles in a black car and continued shooting.
The jury has learned through evidence and eyewitnesses testimony that Cultrona and the other two men were at Casteel's house with Lisa Freetage and Samantha Owen shortly before the robbery. They’ve also learned Owen made contact with the victim to buy marijuana, and that she also directed him to the location where he and his friends had guns pointed at them by masked robbers.
Owen denied knowing this was going to be anything other than a drug deal when she took the stand for nearly two hours on Friday. She told Prosecutor Ryan Styer and jurors she only realized it was a setup when Cultrona jumped out of the van pulling a mask over his face.
Styer: "So he gets, pulls the mask over his face. Does he have a gun?"
Owen: "Yes, sir. He pulled a gun out of his waistband the same time he pulled the mask over his face as he was stepping out of the car."
Styer: "Then what happened?"
Owen: "The other two guys got out of the black car and they all just kind of bum rushed."
Owen during her testimony also talked about her relationship with Cultrona. She said she had known him since childhood but admitted she was afraid of him and the other two men.
Styer: "Why were you afraid of them?"
Owen: "Um, just their history and they’re thugs, I guess, or their street cred and drug use and history and who they hang out with."
Styer: "Did they carry guns?"
Owen: "Yes, sir."
Tuscarawas County Sheriff's detectives arrested Owen at her son’s school event on the night of the robbery after finding Cultrona’s van at her house and Cultrona sleepig in her basement. They later searched Cultrona’s van and his apartment and found a black bandana and a .357 revolver among his belongings.
Detective Sgt. Adam Fisher also took the stand on Friday and told jurors how an anonymous tip helped them track Cultrona down in Pennsylvania when his court-ordered ankle monitor went dark in the month before his trial.
"On February 21st, we actually received a tip into the dispatch center at the sheriff’s office from a man who wished to remain anonymous, however, he provided us with some information saying that he was communicating with Ian via Facebook messenger, and Ian was saying he hadn't eaten in several days and needed some food, and he actually made a request for them to wire some money to him through Walmart."
Fisher said Cultrona gave the man a name to wire the money to, but he says that wasn’t much help because recipents can accept the transfer at any Walmart. He says they ended up finding Cultrona through the IP address he used to to send the messages.
"They give us a particular address.. 212 Mercer Avenue in New Brighton, PA, so they give us Anthony’s name, his address and his phone number."
Jurors will also be hearing from Detective, Lt. Jeff Moore and Community Corrections Officer Steve Pompey when Cultrona’s trial resumes this afternoon.
Casteel is scheduled to go to trial on April 22nd for his alleged role in the robbery, and Lambes at the end of April or early May at a date to be determined. Owen was originally indicted on the same charges as the three men, but prosecutors have agreed to let her plead guilty to one count of aggravated robbery in exchange for her testimony.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO