YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — To hear her attorney tell it, Lyric Moore was nowhere around when Zachary Howell was killed.
Speaking Tuesday during opening statements in the 25-year-old Moore’s trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court on conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges, defense lawyer Mark Lavelle said his client was present when a co-defendant who is already in prison for Howell’s death, Terrell Martin and another man came over to Howell’s Campbell home in February of 2019 after asking Moore if the door was locked.
Howell was found shot to death and burned beyond recognition the next day in his SUV behind a vacant Sharon Line home. Police found Moore’s phone at the crime scene which led them to her and Martin.
But Moore’s phone was there because the man who came with Martin told Moore to give up her phone so she couldn’t call police, Lavelle said.
It is the first time in the over 4-year-old case that anyone has said a third person was in on the death of the 40-year-old Howell.
Martin, who pleaded guilty to charges of murder and aggravated robbery in 2020, is serving an 18 year to life prison sentence.
Before opening statements, prospective jurors gathered in the courtroom of Judge Maureen Sweeney to be selected to hear the case against Moore, 25, who is charged with complicity to aggravated murder, murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, obstruction of justice and kidnapping for the February 2017 shooting death of Howell.
The morning was taken up with jury selection and opening statements began in the afternoon.
Lavelle said Moore was in a relationship with both Martin and Howell and that Howell had been asking her if she was at Howell’s home and if Howell had a gun with him. When Moore texted back Howell was home and his door was unlocked and he had a gun, that is when Martin and a second man came over, Lavelle said.
When the men told her to leave Moore did so, and she did not know Howell was dead until the next day when she saw it on the news, Lavelle told the jury.
In his opening statement, assistant prosecutor Aaron Meikle told jurors the evidence will show that there was a conspiracy between Martin and Moore to rob Howell.