Lady justice with a colorful sky behind her

Attorney Frank Cassese secures acquittal in aggravated murder case, says verdict proves the criminal justice system works

Attorney Frank Cassese

Attorney Frank Cassese, leader of Betras Kopp LLC’s (BK) Criminal Defense Practice Group, said today’s acquittal of Daundre Turner on charges of aggravated murder, murder, and robbery, demonstrates the value and effectiveness of the criminal justice system. A Mahoning County Common Pleas Court jury returned the not guilty verdicts after deliberating for six hours.

Mr. Turner was accused of the 2016 killing of Omar Croom on Youngstown’s Eastside. Youngstown Police detectives who investigated the crime at the time did not have sufficient evidence to recommend charges be brought against Mr.Turner. He was arrested, charged, and jailed in early 2023 when a different YPD officer reopened the cold case.

According to Attorney Cassese, the prosecution’s case was based on statements offered by Ranee Fitzgerald, Mr. Turner’s spouse who was charged with complicity to aggravated murder in Mr. Croom’s killing. She waived spousal privilege and testified against her husband during the trial. “The prosecution did a very professional, thorough job with the evidence they had, but at the end of the day, they simply could not convince the jury my client was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

BK Managing Partner David Betras said the outcome of the case was determined by two factors: Attorney Cassese’s ability to identify and select jurors who would listen to the evidence with an open mind and his devastating cross examination of Fitzgerald. “Time after time, Frank pointed out inconsistencies and conflicts in her testimony that raised serious doubts about her veracity and credibility,” Atty. Betras noted.

“This verdict underscores the important role preparation, skill, knowledge, instinct, and sheer talent play in criminal trials,” he continued. “Frank spent hundreds of hours examining the evidence and statements the prosecution would offer at trial, preparing for jury selection, and crafting the questions he asked during cross examination—questions that determined the outcome of the case.”

“I’m extremely pleased by the verdict and gratified that Mr. Turner, who has been incarcerated in the Mahoning County jail while awaiting trial was set free today,” Atty. Cassese. “Along with our commitment to doing whatever is necessary to seek and secure justice for our clients, the entire BK team believes the cornerstone of the justice system is the American jury. Today, our faith in that system was validated.”