Verdict: Guilty

WARREN – An ex-convict from Cincinnati faces the possibility of more than 20 years behind bars after a jury took less than six hours to return a split verdict that an assistant prosecutor and a defense attorney are still trying to figure out.

Kevin Johns, 24, showed little emotion as Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan read the decision that found the defendant guilty of rape but not guilty of robbing either of two women of their cell phones after jumping into their car April 13.

Johns was found guilty of a lesser version of kidnapping the driver of the car, but not guilty of kidnapping the passenger.

The defendant also was found guilty of having a firearms with him while committing crimes against each of the victims, which could mean an additional six years in prison.

He also was convicted of possessing weapons under disability since he was a criminal record and served three years in prison for robbery and assaulting a police officer in Hamilton County.

Johns’ attorney, Daniel Keating, said he was disappointed in the verdict.

Assistant prosecutor Chris Becker said he was a little confused with the jury’s thinking. However, he figured Johns still could face up to 28 years if the sentences are run consecutively.

Logan scheduled sentencing for April 1.

The rape victim, who watched the verdicts being read, said she had mixed feelings about the split verdict. ”I’m still glad he was convicted of raping me. He’ll be off the streets,” she said.

The victim’s friends, who were sitting nearby, reminded her that Johns also will have to register as a convicted sex offender when released.

Johns told a jury Wednesday that the two women who accused him of robbery, kidnapping and rape were simply trying to set him up because they think he stole money from them. He said he actually had consensual sex with the woman in a motel in Austintown, and she kept an article of clothing that had his semen on it and turned it into authorities when she reported the rape.

Becker, who praised the work of Warren police officers and forensic scientists from the state, said the crime was actually set up by Johns’ prison friend Taemarr Walker, with whom Johns was staying while visiting the area.

Walker, 24, of Warren, was killed in a confrontation with a Warren police officer in October.

The women testified that they were picking up Walker to go shopping with them and Walker told them over the phone to pull to the back of his home. It was there they encountered Johns, who forced them to drive around at gunpoint, according to their testimony.

Johns later ordered the driver to stop and get out of the car and remain outside by a fence while he raped the passenger in a driveway at the corner of Kenilworth and Grandview S.E. Then, the gunman ran off, the woman said.

Becker said he thought part of the reason for the split verdict could have come from Keating’s use of a Facebook posting by the driver that criticized the rape victim and called the sex consensual. The driver said in court that she just made up the message and posted it since she had a ”falling out” with her former friend and roommate.

”I hope some people take notice and are more careful with what they say on the social media,” Becker said.

cbobby@tribtoday.com