Ohio man accused of killing lottery winner found not guilty

Oct 20, 2020, 1:51 pm (8 comments)

Ohio Lottery

Identity of true murderer still a mystery two years after the deadly encounter

By Kate Northrop

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A jury's decision to acquit a former suspect of the murder of a player who had just won $50,000 from a scratch-off lottery ticket was made public yesterday.

Michael Ward Jr., 19, was found not guilty of the murder of his cousin Isaac Carson Jr., a father of two, a barber who worked at Professional Cutters in Euclid, and an aspiring R&B singer who participated in local American Idol auditions. Ward was initially indicted by a Cuyahoga County grand jury in December 2019 on multiple charges, including aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery, felonious assault, and kidnapping, but following the presentation of evidence, or lack thereof on the prosecution's part, he was acquitted on all counts.

"I'm feeling blessed," Ward's mother said. "It's been a long two years. We knew that my son was innocent."

The murder took place in the parking lot of Lady Luck Pub & Eatery on Nottingham Road in Cleveland in June 2018. According to Ward, he and two others met Carson there to purchase marijuana.

Surveillance footage captured every moment of the deadly encounter. On the evening of Carson's death, Ward was seen getting out of his car into the front seat of Carson's minivan. Following their transaction, a second person from Ward's car joined them in the back seat of the van. Things quickly went south from there.

"He gets in, and he shuts the door," Ward told the jury. "He's pointing a gun, and he tells Isaac 'you know what time it is,' and then he throws some zip ties over the seat. I just kind of throw them back like 'what are you doing?'"

The van rocked back and forth while a struggle ensued. The man sitting in the back of the car pulled out a gun, but despite Carson and Ward's attempts to get the person to put the gun away, it went off and shot Carson in the back.

The second person immediately got out of the van and ran back to their car. Realizing Carson had been shot, Ward got out too. That was when the unidentified individual ran back to Carson's car to shoot him again. The three suspects, including Ward, drove off, leaving Carson behind at the parking lot.

Despite there being more than one person at the scene of Carson's murder, Ward was the only person charged in connection with his death. Cleveland police detectives and prosecutors pointed the finger at him because they had suspected Carson's $50,000 prize from a scratch-off lottery ticket made him a target in Ward's eyes. They also referred to Ward's DNA found on a handle to the back seat of Carson's van and the zip ties scattered in the front and back seats of the car.

However, Ward defended himself by explaining that he was a person in the wrong place at the wrong time who had no idea about the impending violence that was to come. The shooter had thrown the zip ties in the front seat to get Ward to participate in an attempted robbery, but he refused to comply.

"I just basically told them, 'why didn't y'all tell me that was what y'all was going to do?'" Ward recalled him telling the other suspects. "I didn't know what was going on."

The evidence presented by prosecutors was not enough to prove that Ward had killed or robbed Carson. While Common Pleas Court Judge Sherrie Miday threw out two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of aggravated murder, jurors acquitted Ward of all other counts after a full day of deliberation.

"We hope that the police will continue to investigate and try to find out who is truly responsible for the loss of Isaac Carson's life," Ward's attorney, Jeffrey Saffold stated.

Investigators have also not yet located the gun used in the murder and weren't able to find any witnesses who could definitively label Ward as the killer.

"I was confused," Ward said. "I didn't know why everything happened the way it happened and why so fast. I just didn't want to be in the middle of it. I didn't want Isaac to think I had anything to do with it. I was scared."

"We always believed that there was more than one," Victoria Moore, the mother of Carson said before the jury's ruling. "We definitely believed that and that is was a set up."

Lottery Post Staff

Comments

Cassie8620's avatarCassie8620

I heard about this a while ago. So tragic. Frown RIP Isaac Carson.

 

I am praying for the victim family as he is continuing to rip now.

However, i know this much,

 

-Zero evidence and only going by a hunch or a "feelin?"Not evidence.

 

-No real proof=  NOT GUILTY and i've been on California jury and here in NC.

 

-Prosecutor has to show without a doubt some 1 did what they are accused of,

 

and if not, i am one who will hold out for hours. days.month if warranted."

 

Sad story. I hope the young man only 19 can rebuild his life, and avoid being around

negative type people, and or those who are up to "no good."

 

Only Mr.Ward & GOD really know and if he is "truly innocent" i pray to GOD the "real killer is arrested, because they've already wasted a long 24 months and that is not fair to this man family, who care and love him.

TheGameGrl's avatarTheGameGrl

The mysterious third person did it. 

Yeah....okeee..

Let's go with that. 

Or so said the jurors.

noise-gate

Wanna bet, that Ward told he's passengers " My cousin sells weeds, and guess what? He just won K50 on a lottery scratcher."  The snap ties were to kidnap the cousin & force him to cough up the money. I mean, you leave Ward's vehicle, get into the backseat & you pull out a gun & don't point it at Ward, but the barber?

This was a robbery for more than weed, after all, you can buy that crap at another street corner, it's the scratcher money they were after.

Stack47

There was a scratch-off winner in Canton, Ohio that was robbed and killed after winning a nice jackpot. I believe they murdered him for under $200. Tried to find a link to the story but found several recent stories about other murder/robberies. 

There is a reason they call it dope, but who would think anybody had the entire $50 grand in their wallet or money clip?

HaveABall's avatarHaveABall

What are the names of the two males that were in Ward's car with Ward?  Even if teenager Ward was drunk or high, he should be able to recall at least one.

What?

RIP Isaac Carson.

noise-gate

Quote: Originally posted by Stack47 on Oct 20, 2020

There was a scratch-off winner in Canton, Ohio that was robbed and killed after winning a nice jackpot. I believe they murdered him for under $200. Tried to find a link to the story but found several recent stories about other murder/robberies. 

There is a reason they call it dope, but who would think anybody had the entire $50 grand in their wallet or money clip?

Some thieves have no time to think, they act on impulse. I mean where did the zip ties come from, and why would it be needed, unless they were fed information on the victim.
* l have to chuckle that someone disagrees with my " opinion." It's mine, where's yours? I like to think that if you have a better idea to counter mine, have at it, give me the chance to dissect your? Don't stick & move commie.

As they say"  No imagination."

Nikkicute

Quote: Originally posted by HaveABall on Oct 20, 2020

What are the names of the two males that were in Ward's car with Ward?  Even if teenager Ward was drunk or high, he should be able to recall at least one.

What?

RIP Isaac Carson.

That's what I was thinking, doesn't he know the two other peopleWhat?

"According to Ward, he and two others met Carson there to purchase marijuana"

Bleudog101

Wonder why no complicity to commit murder?    Here in KY a guy shot and killed an intruder (Castle Doctrine) and intruder's buddy got charged with murder.   I guess every case is differently.

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