Sentencing delayed for Cox

By Deanna Hohler Bottar Record-Courier staff write Published:

The investigation into Weeks' death has been ongoing since the 45-year-old Kent man's body was discovered along the side of a road July 28, 1996 in Ravenna Township's McElrath neighborhood.

Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci said Cox's August trial did not conclude the investigation into Weeks' death, which has been wrought with inconsistent stories from at least one witness who testified during the trial.

Cox, who now lives on Buchtel Avenue in Akron, looked directly at Weeks' parents in court and apologized for the role he played in their son's death. Although he said he did not inflict the wounds that ultimately killed Weeks when the pair struggled in Cox's car on an Interstate-76 on-ramp in Rootstown, he said he feels somewhat responsible for his death.

For Charlene and Ray Weeks Sr., who trembled with emotion as Cox addressed them, the apology came too late.

"I feel for your family," said Cox, who has not been held in jail since his January indictment on a murder charge in connection with Weeks' death. "I've been friends with your grandchildren, friends with your daughters. I was friends with Ray. It if was my child, I'd be angry, too.

"I feel responsible," he continued. "I shouldn't have hit him. I'd like to make amends to you the best way I can, by changing."

Kainrad said he wanted to review victim impact statements written by members of Weeks' family, including his 14-year-old daughter who lives in Florida. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

"I want to review those and review the sentencing investigation (report) more thoroughly," he said, explaining that he also wanted to see if Cox meets eligibility requirements for the NorthEast Ohio Community Alternative Program based in Warren.

The community-based corrections facility is a prison alternative program that allows inmates to hold jobs, take classes and undergo counseling while housed there. The Warren facility opened in October and serves Portage, Trumbull, Geauga, Ashtabula and Lake counties.

The judge said he is considering the program as an option in Cox's sentencing. Cox could receive six to 18 months in prison for the charge if the judge decides to impose prison sanctions.

"I don't think there has been a more gross miscarriage of justice in this court," Weeks' father said in court. "Mark Cox may have been found not guilty, but he will always be guilty in my heart."

Cox was convicted after a six-day nonjury trial. If found guilty of murder, Cox would have faced 15 years to life in prison.

Throughout the trial, Cox's defense attorneys, Joseph Giulitto and Robert Berger, contended Cox did not inflict the wounds that later killed Weeks. They repeatedly said three of Cox's friends, Hayes Rimmer, Kelsey King and Frank Johnson, went out to find Weeks after Cox left him on an I-76 on-ramp in Rootstown.

Later, a surprise defense witness, Antoinette Latimer, who was serving time in the Summit County Jail at the time she testified, told the court she saw five young men kicking Weeks in the head a few hours before his body was found dead in a ditch.

Latimer, who admitted she was high on crack at the time of Weeks' death, said she saw Victor Latimer, her cousin; Jay Caples; Brad Gibson; David Boyd; and Meshawn Colbert, who also is known as Meshawn Smith or Meshawn Jones, "stomping" Weeks on Fairfield Street.

Vigluicci, who recommended Monday that Cox serve 18 months in prison for his crime, said a grand jury investigation is ongoing into the allegations Latimer made.

"The people she named along with herself have been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury," Vigluicci said. "She told more than one version of her story. We certainly listened to what she had to say. I don't know that we necessarily believed what she had to say. It requires further investigation."

Kainrad said a gap of missing information concerning what happened to Weeks between the time Cox left him and when his body was found in Ravenna Township has bothered him since Cox's August trial.

"There's somebody out there that beat this guy up before or after this and it bothers me," he said, reminding Vigluicci that Portage County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Longbottom testified about seeing Weeks acting normal in McElrath after Week fought with Cox on the interstate.

When Cox was convicted on the assault charge, Kainrad ruled Cox was trying to regain control of his car, not commit murder, when he struck Weeks in the head with a heavy flashlight.

Cox admitted to Portage County Sheriff Duane Kaley that he struck Weeks repeatedly with a heavy flashlight he kept in his car for protection.

Cox's mother, Barbara, of Kent; his wife, Melissa, 22, of Akron; his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, Robert D. Way, of Brimfield; and his employer, Paul Revoldt of North Canton, testified that Cox has made great strides to become a model citizen during the past year.

His mom and Way also discussed how Cox had been in and out of treatment programs for his alcohol and drug abuse problems for more than seven years and did not succeed. But, they said Cox attends AA meetings, works as a landscape foreman and is attentive to his wife and infant daughter, Amber.

"Even though I didn't inflict the injuries that resulted in his death, it was not the lifestyle I wanted to lead," Cox said when asked to describe what prompted his retreat from a life of drug and alcohol abuse. "I had a moment of clarity when I could see how my whole lifestyle up 'til then had led up to Weeks' assault."

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