Thursday, July 13, 2000

Shooter sentenced in murder

18 years to life for former deputy

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A former Hamilton County sheriff's deputy was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison Wednesday after a jury convicted him of murder.

        Owen Hobbs, 52, stood silently as the guilty verdict was read. Judge Fred Cartolano imposed the maximum sentence a few minutes later.

        Prosecutors say Mr. Hobbs shot and killed Rashawn Berry, 25, outside his Silverton apartment on Feb. 19.

        During his trial in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, Mr. Hobbs said he had gone to the apartment complex to borrow money from his ex-wife, who also lived there.

        While there, he testified, he saw a man argue with Mr. Berry and pull out a gun.

        Prosecutors, however, say it was Mr. Hobbs who drew a gun.

        They say Mr. Hobbs may have mistaken Mr. Berry for his ex-wife's boyfriend.

        Assistant prosecutor Steve Tolbert said several witnesses saw a man matching Mr. Hobbs' description argue with Mr. Berry before the shooting.

        Mr. Berry came downstairs after Mr. Hobbs rang the buzzer to his apartment, possibly by mistake, Mr. Tolbert said.

        He said Mr. Berry had been watching TV, waiting for a friend to arrive, when the buzzer went off. Mr. Berry was still holding the TV remote when he was shot four times at close range.

        After the shooting, neighbors reported seeing a man who looked like Mr. Hobbs running through backyards and climbing over fences.

        A security camera at a nearby post office taped Mr. Hobbs as he took off his jacket, stashed it next to the building and then drove off.

        Mr. Hobbs, of Sycamore Township, worked as a sheriff's deputy for several years before he was fired in 1986.

        He was accused of stealing “bait money” used in an internal investigation. He later pleaded guilty to one count of theft in office.


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