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Reagan Tokes’ trial: Brian Golsby’s acquaintances, special investigator take stand

Joshua Durst, a special agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Jennifer Rausch, an assistant prosecutor, examine evidence from Reagan Tokes’ car. Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz | Editor-in-chief

Three witnesses who were acquaintances of Brian Golsby testified against him Wednesday morning at the Franklin County Courthouse in the third day of the capital-murder trial.

Each of the three witnesses testified that Golsby told them Feb. 8, 2017 — the day prosecutors say he kidnapped, raped and murdered Ohio State student Reagan Tokes — that he was carrying a gun in his coat. Each witness also indicated Golsby was always seen wearing a puffy white winter jacket, which the prosecution presented COTA security footage that shows Golsby wearing a coat matching that description.

Tijuanna Richards testified that, in the few weeks leading up to Feb. 8,  Golsby frequently hung out at her house on 17th Avenue in North Linden, since he was said to have been dating Richards’ niece at the time. But when Golsby visited Feb. 9, he “looked a little strange” and had a change in his eyes compared to other days, Richards said.

The prosecution has now called 11 of its 25 witnesses, with four testifying Wednesday morning after seven took the stand Tuesday. The morning’s testimonies began with Joshua Durst, a special agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The prosecution focused on Reagan’s car that they say Golsby, who is facing the death penalty if convicted, drove for two days prior to leaving it outside an abandoned house just southeast of downtown.

Another witness, Leontau Brown, said he drove to a corner store in North Linden with Golsby Feb. 9 in Tokes’ silver Acura. Golsby, the three acquaintances testified, was not known to have a car, usually taking the COTA for transportation. But on Feb. 9, Brown testified that Golsby told him he “just got [the car].”

Richards also said she was surprised Feb. 9 when she found out Golsby drove to her house in the car because he typically took the bus.

The morning’s testimonies began with Joshua Durst, a special agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, whose testimony focused on the evidence he collected from Tokes’ car on Feb. 10, the day before Golsby was arrested for the crimes. Durst explained the process of swabbing Tokes’ car for DNA, particularly the driver-side door handle which he thought looked like someone wiped it down.

Durst also detailed why he collected only one of the two cigarette butts on Oakwood Avenue as evidence, saying the one he catalogued looked “fresh,” as if it had been dropped there recently while the other looked smashed and “weathered,” as if it had been there a long time.

Defense attorney Kort Gatterdam pushed Durst on that decision during cross examination, but Durst said he believed that DNA wasn’t likely to be found on the weathered cigarette butt, which is why he didn’t take it as evidence.

Durst testified he found an empty red gasoline can in the trunk of Tokes’ car, another cigarette butt on the floor behind the driver’s seat and a burn mark on the driver’s seat. Durst said when he first opened Tokes’ car, he noticed “an extreme smell of gas.”

During cross examination, Durst said he didn’t know when the burn marked was created, and added he’s not an arson expert.

Richards said after her testimony the reason she chose to testify against Golsby was to protect her neighborhood and keep “a bad guy off the streets.”

“It was kind of scary the next day to wake up and see him on the news,” she said. “He could’ve got any of us.”

The trial will resume Wednesday afternoon, with the prosecution expected to call more witnesses to the stand. This story will be updated.

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