Updated Fri, Apr 11, 2014 12:56 pm
A Waverly man who was found not guilty of murder in 2012 was shot and killed late Tuesday evening.
The Pike County Sheriff's Office and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) are currently investigating the death of Michael Allen Sabo, 28, after he was driven to Adena Pike Medical Center after 11 p.m. on Tuesday and left in the vehicle outside the hospital while the driver fled on foot. According to Pike County Sheriff Richard Henderson, the vehicle was parked near the doors to the emergency room, and he believes that Sabo was left in the back seat on the passenger's side of the vehicle.
According to Henderson, Sabo had a gunshot wound to the chest area and was pronounced dead by a physician at Adena Pike Medical Center. Henderson said that it was believed to have been one shot, and while he is not 100 percent sure, Henderson said he thinks that Sabo was deceased when he arrived at the hospital.
Henderson said the vehicle has been impounded, and BCI is processing it.
"We're trying to piece it all together with the evidence that we're gathering," Henderson said of the investigation.
According to Henderson, the shooting took place inside the Jackson Township firehouse that is located on state Route 335. Sabo was an employee of Jackson Township and was able to access the firehouse.
The Sheriff's Office is following leads and did take a person of interest into custody early Wednesday morning, Henderson indicated.
According to Pike County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Junk, during the course of the investigation into the shooting, Raymont Willis, 35, of Waverly, was taken into custody and is sitting in jail on a weapons under disability charge that was filed on Wednesday.
Junk said that Willis is not charged with killing anyone or doing anything at the shooting incident but that there is evidence that shows that he was in possession of a firearm.
"The killing itself we'll sort out at the grand jury," Junk said.
Junk said that it is a possibility that the shooting could have been done in self defense.
He mentioned Sabo's past history of violent aggravated robberies, including a conviction of robbing the County Line Adult Bookstore north of Waverly while still a juvenile.
Junk mentioned that Sabo had been in the penitentiary in the past for felony offenses and that his MO (modus operandi) was basically using firearms to rob people.
"I've always considered him a very dangerous individual," Junk said.
"What it's looking like is probably some type of drug deal gone wrong," Junk added.
According to Junk, it would not be beyond the realm of possibility for Sabo to attempt to rob somebody during some type of narcotics transaction. Junk said that it does not surprise him a bit that Sabo ended up this way.
Junk mentioned that Sabo was not a member of the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Department and emphasized that neither Jackson Township nor its fire department had anything to do with the shooting incident.
Henderson said that there were other subjects present at the firehouse at the time of the shooting, and interviews with other subjects are also a part of the investigation. He said that his office and BCI are collaborating to put a case together for the prosecutor's office.
"They just need to get every shred of evidence together, give it to us, we'll review it, double check that everything's gathered and done correctly, and then we'll probably present the case to the grand jury at some point and let them review it," Junk said.
According to Junk, the subjects who were present at the scene have criminal records, and he would like to see forensic testing and evidence-gathering, such as gunshot residue and DNA testing of objects that have been recovered.
"We want to see that go to laboratory," Junk said. "We want to basically have every single witness statement, every single forensic test, photograph, and piece of evidence."
In 2012, Sabo was found not guilty of felony murder and five other charges in the Pike County Court of Common Pleas. He had faced charges in connection with an incident that occurred on Feb. 7, 2011, when two men, one alleged to be Sabo, broke into the Morgan’s Fork Rd. home of John Matthew Nichols, Jr. At that time, Sheriff Henderson said that as the two men were leaving the home, the resident, now known to be Nichols, reportedly grabbed one of his own guns and went out on his front porch to confront the intruders.
The intruders then pointed guns and threatened to shoot, and that is when Nichols shot one of the men, Thomas Pryce, who later died. A grand jury has ruled that Nichols was justified in his actions and was cleared of any wrongdoing. The state alleged that Sabo was a cause in his alleged partner’s death.
At the time of the 'not guilty' verdict in 2012, Junk said that he spoke with a juror and was told that problems with the investigation of the case contributed to the not-guilty verdict. During the trial, the defense attorneys raised issues with the handling of the investigation that would cause reasonable doubt, including faulty identification procedures and the credibility of witnesses for the state, some of whom have felony convictions.