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Cops and Courts

Sheffield murder suspect: I was in Sandusky

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    Devonte Randleman takes the stand Friday.



    Devonte Randleman takes the stand on Friday afternoon, July 14.



ELYRIA — Devonte Randleman took the witness stand Friday in his aggravated murder trial to insist that he was in Sandusky when Stephen Antonio Dukes was gunned down outside his Sheffield apartment last year.

When asked by his lawyer if he had anything to do with Dukes’ death, Randleman said he hadn’t, adding that he thought of Dukes as family.

“Not a little bit, not an ounce, for the world to know, whatsoever,” Randleman said under questioning from his defense attorney, Anthony Manning.

Randleman, 24, testified he had spent much of the day before the shooting dealing with a boil in his groin area that was so painful he had to go to the hospital to have it lanced. He also said that he served as a middleman for drug deals, selling marijuana and prescription painkillers to clients through a partner who handled delivering the drugs for him.

He testified that he was still in pain and limping from the boil throughout Aug. 4 and into the next day when Dukes, 26, was found dead in his driveway. But he said he pushed through the pain because he needed to earn money. Randleman had been released from prison after serving five years for aggravated robbery and felonious assault charges.

“You’ve got to make money,” he said. “It costs to live, and it costs a lot.”

Assistant Lorain County Prosecutor Laura Dezort asked what a kilo of cocaine might be worth on the street and Randleman estimated it would go for roughly $40,000. Prosecutors have said that Randleman and an unidentified accomplice broke into Dukes’ apartment looking for drugs, cash and guns.

Police found cocaine and packaging that may once have contained a large amount of the drug inside Dukes’ residence.

Randleman said he had gone to Sandusky for the birthday of his grandmother, Gayle Witherspoon, who testified she recalled him coming into her bedroom to wish her happy birthday about midnight or 1 a.m. Aug. 5. Dukes is believed to have been shot about 4 a.m. that day.

Randleman said eventually he went to bed about 3 a.m. or so at the Sandusky home of his uncle’s girlfriend and when he woke up a few hours later he noticed that he had lost one of his two phones. The other was out of power, he said.

“I’ve been walking around like a zombie all day being high on weed and marijuana, so I don’t realize my phone’s not on me,” he said.

Investigators found Randleman’s missing iPhone about 15 feet from Dukes’ body. They also found a pair of sunglasses with Randleman’s DNA on them near the phone. Inside the apartment investigators found a gun that also had Randleman’s DNA on it. Randleman said he sold it to Dukes earlier last summer for $150.

Dezort wasn’t buying Randleman’s explanation that he lost the iPhone hours before the shooting or that he wasn’t at Dukes’ apartment. She said Randleman may have been in Sandusky hours after the killing, but he wasn’t there all night.

“But earlier, earlier you were in Sheffield Village, right?” Dezort asked.

“Sheffield Village? Ma’am, you be trippin’,” Randleman replied.

Randleman said he called his girlfriend, Dominique Camel, to tell her he had lost the iPhone, which was in her name, and she proceeded to remotely wipe the device. Camel testified earlier in the trial that she was concerned about the phone falling into the wrong hands because of photos and videos of her that were on the device.

Randleman said he wasn’t overly concerned that the phone was wiped and simply got a new one while he was in Sandusky. Neither made any effort to locate and retrieve the iPhone, something prosecutors have argued shows they knew it had been left behind at a crime scene.

Dezort also confronted Randleman about his decision to lie to an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation about how he got to Sandusky. He told the agent Aug. 6 that Camel had taken him, but admitted Friday that a friend had actually drove him. Camel, who has a child with Randleman and is now engaged to him, also lied to investigators about taking Randleman to Erie County.

Randleman said he wasn’t concerned about lying because he assumed police would verify he had been in Sandusky by talking to his relatives.

“I told them exactly where I was at,” he said. “Who took me to where I was at was irrelevant in my mind.”

The trial resumes Monday in county Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery’s courtroom.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.

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