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Golsby confessed to killing Tokes, witnesses say

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COLUMBUS — Brian Lee Golsby confessed to kidnapping, raping, and murdering Reagan Tokes last year, the mother of his child told a Franklin County jury Monday.

The prosecution rested its case, and the defense quickly did the same without calling any witnesses, including Golsby.

The jury will begin deliberations Tuesday with Golsby, 30, potentially facing the death penalty if convicted.

Jennifer Nickell of Columbus, the mother of Golsby's 6-year-old daughter, testified that he confessed when she pressed him at the county jail, where he was being held.

“I said, ‘Did you rape Reagan?’” she said, saying he shook his head as if saying yes.

“I started to cry,” Ms. Nickell said. “... and I asked him if he killed her, and he shook his head yes.”

She said she then dropped the prison phone through which she was talking to Golsby and walked out. But she did not go to police and instead visited Golsby again two months later.

“I wanted to know why, because we have a daughter together, and that could happen to her,” Ms. Nickell said.

“Did you ask him why?” Prosecutor Ron O'Brien asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“And what was his answer?” he asked.

“He wanted money,” Ms. Nickell said, adding that she told Golsby, “You have a job. You have money. ... I didn't understand, and that was the last time I talked to him.”

Her testimony was backed up by her friend, Brittney Stepp, who said she thought of Golsby as a brother whom she called “Bub.” She broke into tears as she described Golsby also admitting to her that he had robbed, raped, and killed Ms. Tokes, 21, formerly of Monclova Township, on Feb. 8, 2017.

Ms. Tokes' father, Toby, glared at Golsby as he listened to Monday’s testimony. He left the courtroom to avoid hearing the closing testimony from the deputy coroner about Ms. Tokes' autopsy.

Both he and his wife, Lisa McCrary-Tokes, are expected to be present Tuesday for closing arguments and a possible verdict.

DNA evidence presented Monday placed Golsby with Ms. Tokes and in her car, and her DNA was found on the gun found by police where Golsby told them to look. Gunshot residue was found on his sweatshirt.

This was on top of data points gathered from Golsby's satellite GPS ankle-monitoring device that repeatedly placed him at or near the Ohio State University senior's known locations during the nearly three hours he is supposed to have been with her on the night of Feb. 8, 2017.

He is charged with various counts of aggravated murder, kidnapping, rape, aggravated robbery, tampering with evidence, and possession of a firearm while prohibited from having one.

Ms. Tokes, 21, was months away from graduating from Ohio State with a degree in psychology when she apparently ran into Golsby at random as she left work at the Bodega Cafe south of campus.

She was kidnapped, raped, forced to withdraw $60 from an automated bank teller, and shot twice in the head. Her body was found the next day near the entrance of Scioto Grove Metro Park in Grove City.

Golsby had been recently released from prison after completing a sentence for attempted rape. He was staying at a halfway house and was equipped with a GPS monitoring device that was not being tracked in real time.

Police, however, were able to use the data the device gathered to retroactively trace his steps.

Forensics experts from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification testified that DNA consistent with Golsby — in some cases a 1 in a trillion match — was found in samples taken from Ms. Tokes' body and on cigarette butts found inside and outside her recovered car.

Ms. Tokes' DNA was found on the revolver used to kill her, a weapon that Golsby had disposed of in a street sewer. He later told police where to find the gun as part of his contention that someone by the name of “TJ” had forced him to rape Ms. Tokes and then killed her at the park.

The name “TJ” also came up in the testimony of Ms. Nickell and Ms. Stepp. Both had been inside Ms. Tokes’ car that Golsby drove around after the murder. They said he told them he bought it from someone named “TJ” at work for $600.

Contact Jim Provance at jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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