UHRICHSVILLE — Two sheriff’s detectives testified at a hearing Thursday for five suspects alleged to have been involved in a robbery and shooting in Oxford Township on Dec. 5 that left a 17-year-old boy wounded.
The preliminary hearing in Tuscarawas County Southern District Court was for Douglas M. Casteel and Lucian A. Lambes, both charged with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony; and Ian A. Cultrona, Samantha S. Owen and Lisa Freetage, all charged with complicity, a first-degree felony.
Owen and Casteel waived their preliminary hearing. Judge Brad Hillyer set Owen’s bond at $25,000 with a 10 percent cash feature and continued a $1 million bond for Casteel.
At the hearing for Lambes, Cultrona and Freetage, Detectives Adam Fisher and Lt. Jeff Moore of the Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office described the often conflicting stories they heard from various people involved in the case.
According to testimony from the two detectives, the five suspects allegedly planned to rob a man during a drug deal on Liberty Road southeast of Newcomerstown. At least five shots were fired during the robbery attempt, and the 17-year-old, who was a passenger in a red SUV driven by a man who was the target of the robbery, was wounded when two masked assailants began shooting.
Fisher testified that the 17-year-old had the top one-third of his right pointer finger severed by a bullet.
Five .38 caliber bullet casings were located at the scene, as well as some marijuana, Moore said.
Casteel was placed at the scene because he was wearing an ankle monitor at the time which recorded his whereabouts, the detective said.
Moore also testified that text messages from Owen’s cellphone linked her to the crime. He said she sent a text message to a relative before the incident, "We’re going to hit a lick." Moore said that is street jargon for committing a robbery. Afterwards, she sent another message to the same person saying that the robbery did not go down as planned.
During Fisher’s interview with Owen, she told him that she and Cultrona were innocent bystanders and the two masked men showed up out of nowhere.
Moore testified that Freetage told him that the robbery was planned at Casteel’s residence in Newcomerstown when all five suspects were present. She said she knew there was going to be a robbery and that her black car was used. She blamed Cultrona for coming up with the idea of committing the crime.
She said that Cultrona and Owen traveled to the scene in Cultrona’s van, while Lambes, Casteel and Freetage drove there in Freetage’s car.
Moore testified that Freetage didn’t recall much about the incident.
"She states that she was so scared that she buried her head in the back seat of the car, did not see what occurred, but that she heard multiple gunshots," Moore said.
On the day of the shooting, Fisher interviewed the 17-year-old, who was then a patient at Coshocton County Memorial Hospital.
The 17-year-old said that he and two friends were out cruising on a road he was unfamiliar with. The driver of the vehicle he was in pulled up behind a van parked along the road. A woman exited the van and talked to the driver of the vehicle he was in, Fisher said.
"In his words, the two of them completed their transaction, and then masked men appeared around the car, guns were involved, shots were fired and it was really unclear to him as to where the masked men came from," Fisher testified.
The 17-year-old said the driver then tried to flee the scene. Five or six rounds were fired, and the rear tire of the vehicle he was in was struck. As the 17-year-old jumped from the front seat to the back seat, he was hit by a bullet, Fisher said.
A high-speed chase followed, Fisher testified. Eventually the 17-year-old and the other passenger got out of the vehicle and were taken to the Newcomerstown police department by the driver of a truck.
Following the testimony, Hillyer agreed to release Freetage on a recognizance bond. He continued $1 million bonds for Casteel and Cultrona.
All five suspects were bound over to the grand jury.