Moody Manor murder trial begins for two suspects - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Moody Manor murder trial begins

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Only Antwaine Jones and Keshawn Jennings are on trial for the fatal shooting of a baby girl last summer. Only Antwaine Jones and Keshawn Jennings are on trial for the fatal shooting of a baby girl last summer.
James Moore has taken a plea deal and will testify for the state against the two other suspects. James Moore has taken a plea deal and will testify for the state against the two other suspects.
Keondra and Leondra Hooks were sleeping when they were shot in their apartment at Moody Manor. Keondra died hours later, but Leondra recovered from serious condition. Keondra and Leondra Hooks were sleeping when they were shot in their apartment at Moody Manor. Keondra died hours later, but Leondra recovered from serious condition.
TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

On June 24, the "Moody Manor Boys" trial begins and is expected to stretch over two weeks. In that time, the details of last year's tragic shooting will hopefully come to light.

Antwaine Jones and Keshawn Jennings are the only two men on trial for the murder of 1-year-old Keondra Hooks. James Moore, originally set to go on trial, will instead testify for the state and has taken a plea deal - the details of which will go into effect after he testifies.

On August 9, 2012 just after 11 p.m., two toddlers slept soundly inside their home at the Moody Manor Apartments in central Toledo. The children's great grandmother says she was babysitting the sleeping girls when bullets shattered a sliding glass patio door, hitting both girls. More than 12 shots were fired, hitting 1-year-old Keondra Hooks in the head, and 2-year-old Leondra in the upper body. Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs said the girls were sleeping on the floor when it happened. Three other adults were in the residence at the time of the shooting, but were not injured. No one knew then who had pulled the trigger.

On August 10, Leondra was still reported in serious condition, but Keondra died from her injuries. In a news conference later that morning, Diggs said based on information in the investigation, he did not believe this was a random attack. Diggs said although the apartment had not been targeted before, the apartment complex was a hot spot for crime.

"The Moody Manor, along with a lot of other housing complexes that we have in the city, are a lot of times low income, subsidized housing, and sometimes come with some troubles," said Toledo Police Sgt. Joe Heffernan.

On Aug. 14, the Toledo Area Ministries and Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance co-hosted a prayer vigil for the two toddlers, which was attended by Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, city leaders, clergy members and the community. At this time, police were still following leads looking for the gunmen responsible and no suspects had been named.

Family members said seeing how well Leondra was progressing in her recovery was the silver lining in a difficult situation.

"We was just so happy because she still - she don't give up. Can't tell her no. If she wants to walk, she's going to walk. If she wants to play, she's going to play. Ain't nothing we can tell her. She's doing it, and I'm so proud of her," said Leondra's aunt, Bernice Neal.

Later that day, Toledo police made an arrest: Jones, Jennings and Moore taken into custody in connection with the shooting. All three were charged with one count of obstructing justice. Authorities said there was physical evidence the men lied to police when questioned about the shooting, which led to the obstruction charges. At the time, police said additional charges, including murder, were pending.

None of the men were charged with the actual shooting, but police said they showed little remorse.

After their arraignments, all three were given a $500,000 bond and scheduled for preliminary hearings. The prosecutor asked for the bond amount based on the defendants' history and current pending cases. 

A police source told Toledo News Now, the three were involved in the shooting and there was tension between the suspects and residents of Moody Manor. Toledo News Now was also told that surveillance video from the complex played a role in tying the three to the crime.

"They have enough evidence to charge them with this violation and they're working to determine whether or not they are the individuals involved, so they are going to hold them - since these individuals know they're being looked at - they're going to hold them until they can develop the rest of the evidence," explained legal expert Jerry Phillips.

The family said their goodbyes to Keondra with funeral services Aug. 16 at the Tate Funeral Home on Lagrange Street.

On Aug. 21, Jones, Jennings and Moore were indicted on charges of obstruction of justice. Days later, the men all requested to have their $500,000 bonds lowered, but were denied. Their trial date was then set for Oct. 2. 

However, on Sept. 18, since no one had been charged with murder yet, a judge significantly reduced their bonds to reflect current charges. Moore and Jennings' new bonds were set at $20,000 and Jones' was set at $10,000 because he had less of a history failing to appear in court.

The original purpose of the high bond was because the state was seeking murder charges in the following weeks. After that failed to happen, the attorneys for the defendants asked the judge to reduce the bond and even release them, since the state did not provide the necessary evidence. According to the state, there was not enough evidence to try the defendants for murder, but the process was nearly complete, needing only paperwork for witness protection for those who would testify.

Prosecuting attorneys said it would be "a tragedy to bring those murder charges before everything was ready."

Although bonds were reduced, the defendants were not released into the community and remained in the Lucas County Jail. Their trial date was set for Oct. 2.

Then on Sept. 20, bond was posted for Jennings and Jones and they were released and placed under electronic monitoring. Moore remained in the Lucas County Jail, but eventually posted bond and was released.

Proceedings in court Oct. 2 were quick and to the point. The judge set a trial date of Nov. 14. So far, no one had been charged with the actual shooting in this case. However, the state said it was still trying to gather enough evidence to bring murder charges against the trio.

On Oct. 10, Creonna Ballard, sister of James Moore, defended her brother's innocence and said justice was not being served.

"My brother has a 3-year-old child himself, a little boy," said Ballard. "I know my brother to the T. I know him too much, and I know he would not never do nothing like that."

Not long after, each suspect was arrested and held on a $5 million bond with no possibility of paying 10 percent. A hearing was scheduled for Oct. 18.

On Jan. 11, 2013, a trial date was set for March 18, but on March 14, new details emerged: DNA tests in the case revealed some issues. As a result, the trial which was supposed to start March 18, was pushed back to May 13.

On May 16, a judge ruled the trio would not be tried separately. Another trial date was set for June 24.

On June 18, Jennings and Jones rejected plea deals offered by the prosecutor. The prosecutor said from then on, all plea deals were off the table for Jennings and Jones.

Moore was also offered a separate plea deal. It was unclear whether he accepted that deal.

Jones' father, Antwaine Jones Sr., said his son is not guilty and believes he made the right decision by rejecting the plea deal.

"Why admit to something you didn't do?" Jones Sr. said. "Because you've got to live with this for the next however many years. You've got to live with this. I don't want you to feel guilty or bitter about nothing, so I just, like I say, put it in God's hands and he's going to control it."

On June 20, Moore accepted a plea deal that will require him to serve as a witness in the case against Jennings and Jones.

On June 24, the Moody Manor Boys murder trial begins in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. Judge Frederick McDonald hopes to have a jury selected and opening statements by Tuesday. The court needs 14 jurors and four alternates.

Only Antwaine Jones and Keshawn Jennings are on trial. James Moore will testify for the state and has taken a plea deal, which will happen after he testifies. 

Stay with Toledo News Now for continuous updates in the case.

Read the history of the Moody Manor fatal shooting and trial:

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