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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Two Hit-and-Run Cases In Youngstown, Ohio: Was Robert Brown the Victim of Premeditated Murder?

     On the night of February 2, 2013, Robert Brown was walking to his pickup truck from Duka's Bar on Youngstown, Ohio's south side. As the 23-year-old and a friend were crossing the street that Saturday, a speeding car ran him down and kept going. Brown, who was engaged to be married, died of his injuries shortly after the hit-and-run.

     Five days after Brown's violent death, the Youngstown Vindicator published an article about a candlelight vigil in Brown's honor to be held in front of Duka's Bar on Friday evening, February 8. Brown's mother Jewell and his fiancee Bianca Caradine had organized the event.

     The day after the newspaper article, fifty people were gathered at the spot of the fatal hit-and-run. At 6:30 that evening, a vehicle described by witnesses as a white Pontiac with its headlights off, smashed into a couple of parked cars before plowing into the gathering of Brown's family and friends. As the car sped from the scene, it dragged one of the victims, 19-year-old Tyler Austin, 70 feet.

     Five young men were rushed to the St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown where Tyler Austin, the most seriously injured, was in critical condition. (The other four victims have been treated and released.)

     The day after the candlelight vigil, the Youngstown police received a tip regarding a damaged vehicle that may have been involved in the hit-and-run. The car, parked outside a house in Youngstown, was a 1997 white Pontiac Sunfire. Officers had the suspect vehicle towed to the police impound lot where it would be processed for evidence that might link it to the crime. The police did not arrest the owner or anyone else associated with this vehicle.

     It doesn't seem likely that the vigil hit-and-run was some kind of fluke coincidence. If one assumes that the second hit-and-run incident was connected to Robert Brown's death a week earlier, it follows that he could have been the victim of a premeditated murder. This begs the questions: who murdered Robert Brown, and why? 

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