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Suspect in Lorain shooting takes plea deal, gets 15 years


ELYRIA — One of four people facing murder charges in connection with the March 1 shooting death of Jason Smith took a plea deal Wednesday.

Eddie Velez, 20, entered guilty pleas to charges of involuntary manslaughter as well as aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and felonious assault. Prosecutors dropped the murder charges he had been facing as part of the plea bargain, which also included an agreement that Velez will continue to cooperate with police and prosecutors and tell the truth.

Velez was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Raymond Ewers, who also denied a request from Velez that he be allowed to go home for several weeks before beginning his sentence. The 15-year sentence was part of the plea bargain, according to court records.

Jeremy Brown, Aaron Rodriguez and Donzelle Crosby, the alleged gunman, continue to face murder charges. Crosby could get the death penalty if convicted.

Police have said Smith, 28, was shot by Crosby in a botched drug robbery at a house on West 17th Street in Lorain.

Ortner said Smith was shot twice, once in the left wrist and again in the abdomen before he went outside and collapsed.

He said Velez told police that Rodriguez approached him and Crosby about robbing Smith and they later picked up Brown to assist in the robbery. Crosby allegedly shot Smith during the robbery, although police haven’t said what they believe prompted Crosby to pull the trigger.

After the shooting, Velez told Crosby that he had just ruined their lives, Ortner said his client told police in a statement.

Brown and Rodriguez were arrested shortly after the shooting, while Crosby fled to Pennsylvania, where he was arrested two weeks later. Velez was charged for his role in the shooting a month after Smith’s death.

Berdell Franklin, who was at the scene of the shooting, pleaded guilty earlier this month to theft and drug possession charges for stealing cash and drugs from the dying Smith. She is awaiting sentencing.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or

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