The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

February 5, 2008

Lawyer at murder trial: ‘Lives on collision course’

MAHONING, MERCER COUNTIES — Gregory Paul Sopher was a bright kid and a joy for teachers in the classroom, his mother said on Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

The 2007 Canfield (Ohio) High School graduate and former Sharon man was shot and killed Oct. 27 after a night of drinking and doing drugs at a Crandall Street home in Youngstown.

Allen K. Frost, 38, of Youngstown, admitted to police he shot Sopher at his home, but an “out-of-body” experience led him to pull the trigger, his attorney Martin E. Yavorcik said.

Frost pleaded not guilty on Nov. 14 to a felony charge of murder and is on trial for the fatal shooting before Judge Maureen A. Sweeney in Youngstown.

“Two lives were on a collision course,” Yavorcik said of their unlikely Oct. 26 meeting, just hours before the shooting.

Sopher and friends Mark Novotny, 18, of Canfield, and Jarrett Andrews, 28, of Columbus, Ohio, had gone to Frost’s home to buy crack cocaine.

Sopher and Frost had never met before, but Andrews introduced the two that night, Novotny said.

Frost was a drug dealer who was forced into the vocation after suffering a stroke when he was 35 years old, his attorney said. He was unable to gain money through his disability and needed a way to support his young daughter and live-in girlfriend, Yavorcik added.

Sopher had also dealt drugs, said Novotny, Sopher’s best friend and a senior at Canfield.

Sopher was charged in July by Canfield police for trafficking drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia, but in September the charges were dismissed, court records show.

Novotny said he stayed in Sopher’s sport-utility vehicle while Sopher and Andrews went inside Frost’s home to buy drugs.

Sopher and Andrews “smoked crack” and Sopher left with Frost to drink at a Youngstown bar while Andrews stayed behind, Yavorcik said. Novotny, still in the SUV, had fallen asleep, he said.

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