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Ex-city inspector is found not guilty

Kevin-Wolever-trial

Kevin Wolever appears Friday at his trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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A former city fire inspector accused of shooting at a fire station and leaving an incendiary device in front of another was found not guilty by reason of insanity in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Friday.

Kevin Wolever, 32, the son of the former fire Chief Mike Wolever, was charged with two counts of improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation and one count each of aggravated arson and felonious assault.

Judge Linda Jennings found that he did not know the wrongfulness of his actions at the time of the incidents and so found him not guilty by reason of insanity.

She ordered that he be evaluated by the Court Diagnostic and Treatment Center and she set a March 26 hearing to order the most appropriate facility for his treatment.

"We are pleased with the verdict and feel that it sufficiently represents the evidence that was presented to the court," said Rob Miller, an assistant prosecutor. "The judge will now decide where he will best be treated."

During an earlier trial before Judge Jennings, Toledo police Detective Jay Gast testified for about three hours on each of the three incidents -- two shootings at Station 6, at 642 Starr Ave., and the device left at Station 18, 5221 Lewis Ave.

The detective said that, at the first shooting on Sept. 21, firefighters at the station heard as many as five shots.

The next day, a crew leaving Station 18 at 10:14 a.m. on a call for service saw what turned out to be a bag of charcoal and a propane tank on fire about four feet from the center overhead door, he said. The crew had to suspend the service call, the detective said, to put out the fire, which could have caused significant damage had it exploded.

After identifying Wolever as a suspect, police officers began trailing him, and on Sept. 24, officers followed Wolever as he walked from his home at 801 Nevada Ave. to Station 6, where one gunshot was heard, the detective said.

Police then arrested Wolever, who had a 9mm gun, two loaded magazines, a handcuff key under his tongue, and a flash drive and was wearing a bullet-proof vest.

During the investigation Detective Gast learned that Wolever suffers from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, he said.

Wolever's name entered the investigation when Detective Gast learned that he had failed to attend a scheduled disciplinary or termination hearing. The detective testified that he was informed that other fire personnel were told to report later to work that day because of concerns about how Wolever would react to the hearing.

Police searched Wolever's residence -- the upper unit at the Nevada property -- his sport utility vehicle, which was seen by witnesses at the first two incidents, and computers and flash drives seized from his residence and work. On the computers, investigators found audio and video files in which Wolever recited events he perceived to be happening around him, which Mr. Miller described as "very disturbing." Detective Gast further testified that Wolever admitted during an interview that he was not taking his prescribed medication.

The files, which were not played in court, reportedly feature only Wolever. In at least some, Wolever reportedly talks about hearing voices and ideas. There is also a mention of gremlins, in addition to a video of himself sending a letter to the CIA, Mr. Miller said.

Wolever's attorney, George Gerken, did not cross-examine Detective Gast, although he presented to the judge one psychiatric evaluation for consideration. The judge also reviewed the recordings.

After the verdict, Mr. Gerken said he believed the judge returned a "well-reasoned" verdict. He said that all along, those who know Wolever did not believe prison was the appropriate place for him.

Mr. Gerken added that Wolever's family is pleased that he will receive treatment and are pleased that no one was hurt as a result of the incidents. He said no one, including Wolever, knows why his actions were directed toward the fire department.

"Kevin, in his mind, never intended to hurt anyone," he said. "I'm not sure what he was thinking at the time, but it is expected that he will be hospitalized for a fairly long time."

Chief Wolever, who has attended each of his son's hearings, declined to comment after the verdict.

Judge Jennings has the authority to maintain supervision over Wolever for as long as the maximum number of years he faced in prison -- in this case, 45 years.

Staff writer Erica Blake contributed to this report.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com or 419-724-6064.

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