When Justice fails to protect
A class-action suit filed in Franklin County could mean that 12 convicted felons, most of them sexual offenders, may be back walking the streets of Geauga County sooner than expected. The Ohio Parole Board released a list of 2,700 criminals across Ohio who will be receiving new parole hearings after Franklin County courts determined that the Parole Board had not complied with a 2002 Ohio Supreme Court decision. The suit, Ankorum vs. Hagemand, filed by Assistant State Public Defender Charles Clovis, contended that the Parole Board had not given fair hearings under Ohio's 1996 truth-in-sentencing law. The Parole Board agreed to grant new hearings to the inmates beginning immediately. Board spokeswoman Andrea Dean said the process should take about 18 months.
The Ankorum list includes 623 from Northeast Ohio, 12 of whom are from Geauga County. Dean could not estimate how many of those criminals could be granted parole during the hearings. After a similar order in 2002, the board held 2,504 parole hearings and freed 1,474 inmates. Dean said the new order is different because this group of inmates committed more serious crimes. "This is a different class of inmates," Dean said. "They are very dangerous, mostly sexual offenders."
A 44-year-old man with four prior prison stints was sentenced to 26 years in prison on Wednesday after he was convicted on two counts of rape with a firearm. Antonio E. Elijah continued to insist he is innocent and that he had engaged only in consensual sex with two young women who testified at his trial that began on March 28. The cases were brought after the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory matched Elijah's DNA to the women's cases. On June 21, 2001, a woman met Elijah at a downtown nightclub, and he asked her for a ride home, assistant county prosecutor Lynda Dodd said. But when the woman dropped Elijah off, he left with her cell phone, and she followed him through alleys and backyards until she became disoriented. At that point, he told her he had a gun in his back pocket and had her touch it as he also claimed he was in gang territory. He took her to a secluded park and raped her, Dodd said. On Sept. 5, 2002, Elijah offered a cheap apartment to a young, homeless woman who followed him through alleys and yards until she became lost, Dodd said. Elijah told the woman he would shoot her and his "gang" friends would shoot her boyfriend, if she ran. He took her into an isolated backyard, threatened her again and raped her, Dodd said. Judge Michael Tucker said he imposed the maximum, consecutive sentences because he found the rapes to be "the worst form" of the offenses.
A Huber Heights man, who fatally injured a childhood friend in a 2002 bar parking lot fight, cannot be sent back to prison even though a Greene County judge ruled he violated his intensive probation by going to Florida, his attorney argued on Wednesday. Defense attorney Jay Adams said Common Pleas Judge Stephen Wolaver's sentencing entries in Christopher Knuckles' involuntary manslaughter case were defective because they did not set a specific prison term that would be imposed for probation violations. Knuckles was sentenced to four years in prison in 2003 for involuntary manslaughter and released in September after serving 18 months. He was then to serve probation. During a hearing Wednesday, Wolaver ruled that Knuckles violated his probation by not reporting to his probation officer, not seeking substance abuse treatment and going to Santa Rosa, Fla., where he was arrested in March. Linda Sampson, Asher's mother, said Knuckles is a threat to her family and should face justice. "My son is 31 years old and rotting in the ground," she said. "We are due for some healing," she said. Richard W. Schulte, who represents Asher's family in a lawsuit against Bartles, said Knuckles' case has been riddled with mistakes by Wolaver and County Prosecutor William F. Schenck's office. "The guy that killed their son is going to walk free because of the prosecutors' mistakes and the judge's decisions," he said.
The FBI says a glitch in its computer database led authorities to free a man suspected of sexual assault who is now charged with killing at least two people after his release. Jeremy Bryan Jones, released on a trespassing charge in January 2004, also has been charged with a third killing in Louisiana, and he has been named a suspect in at least five other slayings in three states. "The FBI regrets this incident," Thomas Bush III, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division, added in the statement. Jones was using an alias when he was arrested on the trespassing charge in Carroll County, Ga. Local police sent his fingerprints to the FBI, but the bureau's computer failed to match them with those of Jones, who had been wanted since 2000 in Oklahoma on a sexual assault charge, the FBI said. The FBI blamed a database error for the fingerprint mistake, adding that it was not a case of an examiner failing to make an appropriate match. The FBI said it did not realize Jones had been in the database until September, when he was charged with raping and murdering Lisa Nichols of Turnerville, Ala., that month. Jones is being held in Alabama, where a grand jury indicted him Monday on a count of capital murder. An FBI review of the incident is ongoing. A spokesman in Washington, Joe Parris, said Wednesday he could not elaborate beyond the statement. Jones also is charged with killing a 16-year-old girl in Douglas County, Ga., who was reported missing in March 2004.
Crime rate increases after release of prisoners