In the early morning of Sept. 20, 1994, a dozen young people — a conglomeration of friends, lovers, acquaintances and strangers — converged in an alley near a Dayton apartment building. Within minutes, verbal harassment escalated into robbery, fighting and, finally, a shooting that ended the life of 15-year-old Michelle Lai.
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Who was there on Sept. 20, 1994
Here’s a rundown of the 12 people who were present during the Sept. 20, 1994, confrontation that led to the murder of Michelle Lai:
Michelle Lai, murder victim. The 15-year-old, coincidentally, was being profiled in a Dayton Daily News series about troubled youth running the week of her death.
Holly Lai, Michelle’s sister, was driving the Chevrolet Chevette bearing the five victims. The girls were out “roguing,” or stealing, when they encountered a group of robbers, including Michelle’s killer, according to court records.
Candy Brogan had a necklace ripped from her neck by one of the robbers. The theft was to figure prominently in Patterson’s conviction.
Amy Brogan, Candy’s sister, now deceased.
Danielle Jones, the Lai sisters’ cousin.
LaShawna Keeney, who fired the shot that killed Michelle Lai. She is serving a life sentence at Dayton Correctional Institution.
Angela Jo Thuman pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and aggravated robbery and also is serving a life sentence at DCI.
Tyra Patterson also is serving a life term at DCI after being convicted at trial of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery. Six of her former jurors have signed affidavits saying they may not or would not have convicted her if they’d known about evidence that wasn’t presented at the trial.
Kellie Johnson, 14 at the time of the murder, was convicted in juvenile court and held in detention until she turned 21.
Joseph Letts III, Keeney’s boyfriend, was convicted of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery, but his murder conviction was reversed on appeal and he is now living in Illinois.
Aaron Moten, Johnson’s boyfriend, was also present, but not charged.
Rebecca Stidham, Patterson’s best friend at the time, was not charged. She now says she could have corroborated Patterson’s account of the crime, but she was never called as a witness.