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Down Memory Lane
January 6, 2009 - Joe Gorman
When I heard the name of Youngstown's first shooting victim of 2009 on New Year's Day, I was instantly taken back in time.
The time was one of the most emotional stories I ever covered, the trial of convicted cop killer Martin Koliser in 2003. No trial is like the ones on TV; they are often dull to the point of a migrane and tedious beyond all imagination.
But not the Koliser trial. It was wall to wall emotion and fast paced and every day, sometimes every hour, there was something that would make even the most seasoned observer gasp in shock.
And one of those moments had to do with the shooting of the man Koliser shot before he killed YPD officer Mike Hartzell. And that was the man who was found shot in a SUV that rammed into a porch on the South Side early New Year's morning, Donel Rowe.
Rowe and Koliser had argued in the sweaty, dank, Casaloma Gardens and took their beef to the parking lot. But Koliser was calmed down by friends and offered to shake Rowe's hand.
Rowe would have none of that. He testified that he dared Koliser to shoot him.
``I told him I ain't scared of his gun and to do what he had to do,' Rowe testified. And then he was shot.
If he made the same dare early on a holiday morning, I do not know, and neither do detectives; they have not been able to speak to Rowe since they found him.
One would think that getting shot would change one's lifestyle. Yet Rowe just got out of prison for an assault and weapons under disability charge. Not to be judgmental, but there is some sort of pattern here.
But while I pondered lifestyles and fates, I also flashed back to Koliser's sentencing, where Rowe's father testified about watching his son struggle to recover in the hospital. Rowe's father also recounted the day Rowe was born and how fragile he seemed as a newborn, moving several in the courtroom to tears.
This was before I lost a child of my own, so the words resonate now more than they did more than five years ago. Yet now I picture that man hovering over his son's bed, not lamenting his choices but thinking of his baby, the baby he nurtured and cherished and took care of before he knew of such things as guns and drugs and cop killers.
Perhaps if more people took that view, there would be less people being shot.
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