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Cops and Courts

Blake pleads guilty to role in drive-by shooting

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    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE Larry Blake (RIGHT) sits next to his attorney Anthony Manning on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 16. Manning pled guilty for his involvement in a 2009 drive-by shooting.

    KRISTIN BAUER

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ELYRIA — The driver in a drive-by shooting that claimed the life of Marquis McCall was sentenced to 13 years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault, attempted murder and other charges shortly after his aggravated murder trial began.

Had Larry Blake, 31, been convicted of the original charges, he could have faced a life prison sentence.

With credit for the nearly three years he’s served in the Lorain County Jail while awaiting trial, Blake will likely be released from custody after serving about 10 years behind bars.

“It worked out well,” defense attorney Anthony Manning said after the plea hearing, which came during a lunch break after jury selection had begun.

Blake declined to make a statement before the sentence was handed down by Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi.

Lorain police and prosecutors had said that Blake was driving a gold Ford Taurus when Bohannon Miller opened fire from the car as McCall and other people were walking down Long Avenue on June 22, 2009.

McCall was shot and killed, while Craig Roberson who also was on the street, was hit in the leg by gunfire.

Authorities have argued that McCall’s slaying was retaliation for the shooting of 16-year-old Christopher Hill, who died from his injuries just hours before McCall was shot. No one has been charged in connection with Hill’s shooting, which remains under investigation.

Miller, who is appealing his conviction, insisted after he was convicted of aggravated murder and other charges in the shooting that he didn’t kill McCall. Miraldi sentenced Miller to 40 years to life in prison for the killing.

During Miller’s trial, a key witness in the case, Raymond Fowler, who told police he was in the car when McCall was shot, refused to testify against Miller because of what police and prosecutors described as intimidation. Blake also refused to take the stand during the trial.

Lorain police Capt. Roger Watkins said he was glad that there was resolution to the case for the sake of McCall’s family. He also said the case had been difficult for police.

“We didn’t always get the level of cooperation you would hope to get in a case like this,” he said.

A fourth man in the car, Dale Atkinson, pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in the case and was sentenced to three years of probation and six months in the Lorain County Jail with work release privileges. Atkinson has not yet served his jail time.

Watkins asked that anyone with information on Hill’s shooting contact Lorain police detectives at (440) 204-2105.



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