Vindicator Logo

YOUNGSTOWN Murderer refuses to testify at trial

By Bob Jackson

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Kevin Calwise refused to testify even after the judge said he had no Fifth Amendment protection.
YOUNGSTOWN -- When his own life was on the line, Kevin Calwise spent three hours on the witness standing telling jurors what happened the day LaShawnda Aziz and her children were shot.
When called upon Tuesday to do the same thing during the trial of co-defendant Anthony Anderson in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, Calwise would not talk. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, saying he does not want to taint his appeal chances.
The move took prosecutors by surprise.
"We thought he was going to testify," said Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Franken.
Three life terms: Calwise, 23, of Woodside Avenue, is serving three consecutive life sentences for his role in the deaths of 21-year-old Aziz, her 4-year-old son, DeShun Moreland, and her unborn child. She was pregnant at the time.
A common pleas court jury found him guilty in March 2000 of three counts of aggravated murder and one count each of attempted aggravated murder and aggravated robbery.
Anderson, 24, of Kenneth Street, is on trial on identical charges. As was the case with Calwise, he could face the death penalty if convicted.
What he said then: During his own trial last year, Calwise testified that he went with Anderson to rob Wadell Casey, who was Ms. Aziz's live-in boyfriend, in November 1998. Casey was not home when they arrived at the Lansdowne Boulevard home.
Calwise said Anderson shot Aziz, DeShun and Aziz's daughter, Brea Aziz, all at close range. Brea was 3 at the time and survived her injuries.
Before leaving the house, Anderson pointed his gun at Calwise and ordered him to shoot DeShun, Calwise said in his trial. He said he pointed the gun toward the boy and fired once but didn't think he'd hit him.
When Franken questioned him Tuesday, Calwise refused to testify because he has appealed his conviction and sentence. He said he did not want to make statements that could be used against him, in case he gets a new trial, he said.
No right: But Franken and Assistant Prosecutor Jay Macejko argued that Calwise waived his right to invoke the Fifth Amendment by testifying during his own trial. Even if he gets a new trial, that testimony can still be used against him because it was given in open court, they said.
Even after Judge R. Scott Krichbaum ruled Calwise could not invoke the Fifth Amendment, Calwise still refused to answer questions. He said a videotaped statement he made to police after the shootings contains the truth about what happened. He would say nothing more.
Tape argument: Prosecutors then asked to show the tape to the six male and six female jurors. Defense attorney Louis DeFabio objected because the statement would incriminate Anderson without defense lawyers' being able to cross-examine Calwise.
Judge Krichbaum was expected to rule today on whether jurors will see the video statement. Calwise's statement, which was played for the jury during his trial, mirrors his testimony.