CLEVELAND – Action News had the only cameras rolling in the courtroom on Wednesday when the case against the man suspected of gunning down popular convenience store owner Johnny Yahya took an unexpected turn.
The accused gunman, 22-year-old Calvin Hill, changed his tune by entering a guilty plea as part of a plea agreement that will spare his life. He will instead serve 60 years in jail before he is ever eligible for parole.
The announcement of the deal had an instant affect on Yahya's family and led to a release of pent-up anger. The victim's widow, Rola Yahya, began to verbally assault the admitted murderer and, at times, had to be physically restrained. There was no holding back the words she launched at Hill, however.
"You killed yourself, you (expletive)," Rola screamed at Hill (pictured, above). "You know what you did to us? You just don't know, do you?"
It was an outpouring of emotion that you could have only seen on Action News.
Action News' Paul Orlousky also had you're first look at surveillance videotape recorded just moments before Johnny was killed last January.
Neighbors said that when Johnny died, a piece of his neighborhood on Cleveland's west side died as well. He was described as a friend to the community who would go as far as to extend credit to people when they needed it.
In court on Wednesday, his family watched him die on videotape and listened to his killer explain why he did what he did.
Hill told a three-judge panel that he was the man wearing light pants that could be seen on the videotape pulling the trigger during the robbery of Johnny's store.
"There is no excuse for the crime I committed," Hill said. "It's hard to describe what happened that night as we robbed the store. The intent was not for that man to die."
By admitting his guilt, Hill won a reprieve from the death chamber. As part of the deal, he also agreed to testify against codefendant Teran Ramsey.
"As we were leaving the store, my codefendant was highly upset that we didn't get something out of it and he just kept insisting, 'shoot him, shoot him,'" Hill said.
The courtroom was filled with deputies as tensions between the victim's family and the killer's family intensified.
"You don't know nothing," Rola could be heard screaming. "You killed yourself, you (expletive)."
Speaking for the panel, Judge Christopher Boyko told Hill that he hoped the 60-year sentence would insure he'd never again see the light of day.