Jurors found a 24-year-old man guilty of murder, felony murder and robbery just before 1 a.m. Friday in a drug deal that went deadly.
Jamesley Paul was convicted of murder in the death of Mon Ong. He was found not guilty in the death of Brooke Wendel, but was found guilty on two counts of felony murder and one count each of robbery and using a firearm in the commission of a crime.
Paul appeared in court with two Creole translators and is one of three men who went to the home of Meng Kem at 2405 Barnhart Drive just after midnight Feb. 26, 2020. He was charged with two counts of murder, two counts of felony murder, robbery and using a firearm in the commission of a crime.
Two people were killed. Kem, 28, survived with a shot to the neck that went through his arm and hand, injuries that continue to hinder his movements.
Ong, 21, was pronounced dead at the scene, and Wendel, 23, Kem's girlfriend, was shot and died shortly after at a hospital.
Two other men were charged in the shooting deaths. Kyaw Htet Hlang, 24, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony murder and robbery and was sentenced last year to 50 years in prison.
Kerwins Louis, 21, was charged with two counts of murder, two counts of felony murder, robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and using a firearm to commit a crime. He will face a jury in September.
In closing statements Thursday, Allen County deputy prosecutor Tom Chaille and defense attorney Nicholas Adams presented dueling narratives when it came to Paul's involvement.
In a videotaped statement shown in court, Paul admitted he was at the crime scene but said he “didn't do anything.”
Chaille said Paul shot and killed Ong in the chest as the gun was passed around during a chaotic scene in which $1,500 in cash, pills and drugs were taken.
“They didn't leave until they were dead or left for dead,” Chaille said, “all for 1,500 dollars, a couple of vape cartridges and a little bit of dope.” Paul, who had known Ong since middle school, was part of the crime, a person who made choices and who should be held accountable, he told the jury.
“You go in to commit robbery and your buddy brings a gun. Guess what? You are a knowing, willing participant,” Chaille said. Felony murder is committing a crime such as a robbery in which a person is murdered.
Bobby Revel, who became friends with Paul at the Allen County Jail and offered to testify after writing a letter to the Allen County prosecutor, said Paul described the gun used in the crimes as a “High Point, low quality gun” and implicated himself in shooting Ong and Kem, Chaille said.
“There's no evidence (Revel) wanted anything in return. We know one gun was passed around,” said Chaille, who said the weapon was found in Hlang's Nissan Juke but had had too many hands on it to extract DNA profiles.
The survivor, Kem, the home's renter and owner of the stolen money and drugs, was watching television with his friend, Mon Ong, while his girlfriend, Wendel, dozed on the couch when the fateful knock at the door came. When he opened the door, he saw Hlang, a friend, with two Black men wearing bandannas, Kem said.
Kem recalled three shooters with three guns, but Chaille said five shell casings found at the scene were from the same gun.
Adams maintained that the prosecution's witnesses told different stories and Revel had “plenty of motive” to come forward because he asked to be put on home detention in return for testimony, Adams said.
Adams also said Hlang testified to shooting three people at the scene. “That was the second time,” Adams said. “How many times does he have to do that?”
Hlang testified that he had “made his peace with God and that Jamesley had nothing to do with the robbery,” Adams said. Hlang was angry with Kem for kicking him out of the house about a month before the shootings and was interested in Wendel, Kem's girlfriend.
When Hlang handed the gun to Paul, Hlang allegedly said “now you're going to get dirty,” Adams said.
Adams said other discrepancies included Kem's claim that Ong was shot in the back when he was shot in the chest and that Kem said Paul's and Louis's accents were American. “The state has not proven any intent other than driving over there for drugs,” Adams said.
Paul will be sentenced July 23.