Columbus man convicted of murdering neighbor over parking spot sentenced to prison

Johnnie Wappner, 33, center, was sentenced Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2023 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to life in prison with the opportunity for parole after 21 years for murdering 32-year-old Marcus Deloney last year during a fight over a parking spot outside a duplex on Columbus' North Side.
Johnnie Wappner, 33, center, was sentenced Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2023 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to life in prison with the opportunity for parole after 21 years for murdering 32-year-old Marcus Deloney last year during a fight over a parking spot outside a duplex on Columbus' North Side.

A judge sentenced a Columbus man convicted of murdering his neighbor during an argument over a parking spot to life in prison with the opportunity for parole after 21 years.

Johnnie Wappner, 33, killed 32-year-old Marcus Deloney on Sept. 21, 2022 outside a duplex in the Sharon Heights area on the city's North Side.

A Franklin County jury found Wappner guilty Nov. 17 of all charges: murder, reckless homicide and felonious assault.

A fight between Wappner's and Deloney's families over a parking spot at the duplex escalated, and Wappner hit Deloney on the head multiple times with a firearm before shooting him in the back, according to Franklin County prosecutors.

Judge Mark Serrott sentenced Wappner on Wednesday after denying Wappner's request for a new trial.

Serrott called it a senseless murder over a parking spot and another example of rampant gun violence in Columbus.

One of Wappner's attorneys, Lumumba Toure McCord, said this wasn't a purposeful murder.

"I believe there was either negligence or recklessness," McCord said.

McCord argued that Wappner deserves another trial because Serrott should have instructed the jury to consider evidence that Wappner was defending another.

Some witnesses said during the trial that Deloney was choking Wappner's teenage stepson, and Wappner was trying to get Deloney off of the teen, according to Serrott.

However, Serrott said, the autopsy found that the gunshot killed Deloney, not the laceration to Deloney's head. And Wappner testified, according to Serrott, that he accidentally fired the gun.

Shooting to defend someone and shooting accidentally are mutually exclusive legal theories, Serrott said.

Wappner did not speak during the sentencing hearing as he intends to appeal his case.

Deborah Payne, Deloney's mother, said during the sentencing hearing that Wappner's lack of remorse is despicable.

"My prayer today is that he will have a permanent parking spot in prison until either one of two things happens: Jesus comes and splits the sky or his heart stops and the breath leaves his body. Whichever comes first," Payne said.

Payne described Deloney as a great father, husband, son, coach and mentor. Serrott said he could not believe the number of letters he got from people touched by Deloney.

jlaird@dispatch.com

@LairdWrites

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus man sentenced for fatally shooting neighbor over parking spot