Man Gets 25 Years for Covington Shooting
A fight between girls in Covington's Eastside neighborhood was the catalyst for a series of events that ended with a man shot. This week, the shooter and his accomplice received their punishments in Kenton County Circuit Court. Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders weaves the tale:
On June 23, 2011, at 6:30 p.m., Covington Police Officer Ryan Eldridge spotted commotion in the 1400 block of Wheeler Street. Upon investigation, Eldridge and other officers learned there had been a fist fight between several juvenile girls moments earlier. The fight was broken up by Boysie Washington, who's daughter was one of the combatants. After the girls were separated, one tried to attack Washington's daughter again. Washington intervened and shoved the girl away. Under KY law, officers can only make an arrest for misdemeanor assault if the officer witnesses the assault (other than domestic violence). The parties separated and went their separate ways, however, several hoostile comments were made about Washington "putting his hands on a girl."
Shortly after 8 p.m., Covington Police were called back to the same location for a shooting. Officers located Washington suffering from gunshot wounds to the arm, back, and leg. Washington was losing consciousness and unable to speak. Tarsha Henderson was also discovered to have been shot in the hand. Covington Fire Dept. paramedics transported Washington and Henderson to University of Cincinnati Medical Center for treatment. Three juvenile females witnessed the shooting and told officers a gold car drove by 10-15 minutes earlier. When the car returned, a woman known to them as Iris Jennings leaned out of the car window and said "What's up Boysie?" The girls said Washington responded saying "What's up Iris?" During the exchange between Jennings and Washington, a man later identified as Alvin McDaniel, who was Jennings' boyfriend, exited the driver's side of the gold car with his right hand concealed under a towel. The girls told police McDaniel said "You think you can put your hands on my daughter" and pulled a handgun from beneath the towel. Before Washington could answer, McDaniel began firing. Washington was struck four times. Henderson was apparently an innocent bystander who was hit by an errant shot. Subsequent investigation would prove Jennings' daughter is no relation to McDaniel.
Covington Police Detective Corey Warner responded to conduct the investigation. While Warner was interviewing witness at police HQ, officers spotted Jennings standing outside the police department. Jennings was brought in for an interview. Jennings proceeded to deny being present for the shooting, claimed she was at a bar in Ohio when she began receiving messages about her daughter being in a fight, then lied about the name of the man that drove her to Kentucky. Jennings claimed she barely knew McDaniel and only referred to him by a street name. Detective Warner entered information about the shooter gathered from several interviews into a computer database that eventually suggested McDaniel as a suspect. Both Washington and Henderson subsequently identified a photo of McDaniel as the man who shot them.
McDaniel was arrested and charged with 2 counts of 1st Degree Assault. Jennings was arrested and charged with Facilitation of 1st Degree Assault. Both were indicted by the Kenton County Grand Jury for the same charges. McDaniel was also indicted for 2nd Degree Persistent Felony Offender. The case was called to trial before Kenton Circuit Court Judge Martin J. Sheehan on July 24, 2012. 1st Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Redwine presented testimony from both shooting victims, the three witnesses, Detective Warner, Lt. Greg Jones, Officer Eldridge, and Officer Homphothichak. Redwine also called a witness from Cincinnati Bell who produced text messages from Jennings to unknown persons indicating the shooting was about to take place and that Washington was the target. In addition, a Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy testified he stopped McDaniel driving in the same gold car shortly after the incident.
At trial, McDaniel never denied shooting Washington. Instead, he argued through his attorney that he suffered from "Extreme Emotional Distress" (EED) at the time of the shooting. Jennings denied any involvement in the shooting and claimed she had no idea it was about to take place. Washington took the stand in his own defense. In addition to the EED claim, McDaniel also threw in a claim that Washington also had a gun and shot first. This claim did not match the testimony of any other witnesses and his own lawyer never mentioned those facts in opening statements. After the four day trial, the jury returned a verdict finding both McDaniel and Jennings guilty as charged. The jury then convicted McDaniel of the 2nd Degree PFO charge as well, enhancing the punishment for the assaults from 10-20 years to 20-50 years or life. Had his EED defense worked, punishment would have been 1-5 years enhanced to 5-10 years but eligible for parole in only 20% of his sentence. Instead, the jury recommended a 20 year sentence on each count of Assault 1st Degree, and that the sentences run consecutively for a total of 40 years. The jury recommended a 1 year sentence for Jennings. McDaniel will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least 20 years of his sentence.
On 8/28/12, the defendants appeared before the court again for formal, final sentencing. After hearing arguments from counsel, Judge Sheehan sentenced Jennings to 1 year but probated the sentence for a period of 3 years, meaning Jennings will not have to go to prison unless her she violates her probation and it is revoked by the court. The judge then sentenced McDaniel to a reduced sentence of 25 years in prison despite the jury's 40 year recommendation.