Verdict reached in Youngstown murder trial

A verdict was reached Thursday for two Youngstown men accused of killing four people.

Hakeem Henderson was found guilty of aggravated murder in the deaths of Adam Christian and Raymond Hayes in Youngstown. The two were shot to death and their bodies found just days apart in November 2011.

Henderson was also found guilty of a pattern of corrupt activity.

Jurors agreed that Michael Austin was guilty of aggravated murder in the deaths of Christian and Hayes as well, along with the deaths of Ryan Slade and Keara McCullough. Police found Slade and McCullough shot to death in a car in September 2012.

Austin’s face remained stoic as the judge read off the first of four guilty charges he faces. It was much of the same for Henderson, who showed no emotion as the judge said he is guilty of two aggravated murder charges.

The two convicted murderers may have held back tears, but family members of the victims did not.

They embraced each other and the prosecuting attorneys, who helped put the two men behind bars.

Sally Cox, grandmother of one of the victims, says she wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

“This is the worst thing in the world that could happen to any family, and I never wish any family in Youngstown would have to go through anything like this ever. It’s devastating, just devastating to so many people.”

Prosecutors say the two defendants acted as enforcers for the leader of a local drug trafficking ring. Others in the ring are set for trial this summer.

“We’re putting an end to it,” said Asst. Mahoning County Prosecutor Marty Desmond.

He says Austin and Henderson were the worst defendants he’s ever prosecuted.

“These guys are bad, and these are the type of guys that get back out there and do it again.”

Before exiting, one of the two men said they would “be back for sure.”

The sentencing is expected to be handed out on Monday. Both men face up to life in prison.

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