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Convictions upheld in rape, slaying

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Staff report


A three-judge panel of the 7th District Court of Appeals has unanimously upheld the convictions of Antwon Lanier in the August 2005 rape and slaying of Sierra Slaton.

“It cannot be concluded that the verdicts were against the manifest weight of the evidence,” wrote Presiding Judge Joseph J. Vukovich last week, with Judges Gene Donofrio and Cheryl L. Waite concurring.

A jury convicted Lanier, 27, of rape, complicity to murder, complicity to aggravated robbery and two counts of complicity to kidnapping.

Judge John M. Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court then sentenced Lanier to 55 years to life in prison, making that sentence consecutive to a 21-year prison term he earlier had imposed on Lanier in an unrelated armed robbery and felonious assault case.

The body of Sierra Slaton, 19, of Vestal Road, was found floating in McKelvey Lake on Aug. 7, 2005, the day after she was fatally shot.

Judge Durkin sentenced the gunman, Antonio Jackson, 29, of Summer Street, to two consecutive life prison terms, after Jackson pleaded guilty in the shooting death of Slaton and in the drowning death of 29-year-old Tahnee Jackson on Nov. 20, 2005. Tahnee Jackson was not related to Antonio Jackson.

Lanier and Antonio Jackson initially had been facing the death penalty.

Antonio Jackson escaped the death penalty through his plea agreement.

Lanier escaped it because the jury convicted him of the lesser included offense of complicity to murder and not of the original aggravated murder charge.