CLEVELAND -- Two brothers were convicted Wednesday of murder and felonious assault in the death of a bystander who was killed while the brothers shot at each other last year in Cleveland in a fight that started over a cigarette lighter.
Jonathan Catron, 25, and Carvin Catron, 23, were immediately sentenced to 21 years to life in prison. They were found guilty in the death of 20-year-old James Swindler III on the morning of July 28, 2013.
Swindler, who lived next door to the Catrons, had stepped onto the front porch of his home after hearing a commotion outside. Jonathan Catron stood across the street and his brother was standing in front of Swindler's home when the siblings fired their guns, according to a homicide report. Ballistic tests showed that Jonathan Catron fired the fatal shot.
Jonathan Catron's attorney did return telephone calls.
Carvin Catron's attorney, Michael Cheselka, was enraged after the verdict. He said the judge should not have allowed the brothers to go to trial at the same time because his client ended up being both a victim and a defendant in the case. He said Carvin Catron was not allowed to confront his assailant -- his brother.
Carvin Catron testified at trial that he fired into the air and not at his brother, Cheselka said. The attorney acknowledged there was no one to confirm his client's story.
"It was not a gunfight," Cheselka insisted.
Jonathan Catron, who did not take the stand, was found guilty of two counts of murder and two counts of felonious assault. The first murder and first felonious assault counts were directly tied to the shooting of Swindler. He was charged and convicted of a second murder count because Swindler was killed during the commission of a crime -- shooting at his brother. The second felonious assault count was for shooting at Carvin Catron.
Carvin Catron was found not guilty of the charges related to Swindler's death. He was found guilty of murder for firing a weapon during a crime and for the prosecutor's claim that he shot at his brother.
Cheselka also complained that his client received the same sentence as Jonathan Catron. He said an appeal is planned.