OTTAWA, Ohio — The attorney representing accused murderer Michael Aaron Fay has asked a Putnam County judge to exclude the media from reporting on the teenager’s proceedings in juvenile court.
William Kluge, a court-appointed attorney for the Fay youth, filed a motion in Putnam County Juvenile Court seeking to prohibit media coverage of all pretrial hearings, including an adult certification hearing Tuesday to have the case moved to common pleas court. Judge Michael Borer has scheduled a hearing for 1:30 p.m. Thursday to consider the motion.
The Blade, in conjunction with media partner WTVG-TV, Channel 13, and WLIO-TV of Lima, plan to file a protest with the court today to challenge the attorney’s request.
WTOL-TV, Channel 11, WNWO-TV, Channel 24, and The Courier in Findlay also plan to object to the defense motion.
The Fay youth, 17, is accused of killing brothers Blaine Romes, 14, and Blake Romes, 17, in a trailer on North Perry Street, where he lived with his mother, the victims, and their mother. He faces two counts of delinquency in connection with aggravated murder for the deaths on May 9.
In the motion, Mr. Kluge argues that barring the media will protect the potential jurors from learning information in news coverage of the hearings that would taint their neutrality.
“Although the right to a public trial is a protective safeguard from an abuse of prosecution and judicial power, this court must first protect the integrity of the alleged delinquent child’s constitutional right to an impartial jury,” he wrote.
In the teen's previous appearances, Judge Borer has allowed reporters and photographers and the defendant’s relatives in the courtroom.
Todd Schroeder, the assistant county prosecutor who is handling the certification hearing, said his office has decided not to take a position on the attorney’s motion.
“It is my intention to remain silent on that request,” he said. “I will not take a stand on the issue one way or another.”
If probable cause is established at Tuesday’s hearing in juvenile court, state law mandates that a 16 or 17-year-old be certified to an adult court if he is charged with murder or aggravated murder.
The case then would be bound over to common pleas court, where prosecutors would present evidence and testimony to the grand jury for a possible indictment.
Mr. Schroeder said he is prepared to present testimony and evidence at the hearing to have the Fay youth certified as an adult.
According to a court employee, Judge Borer also will rule on a competency evaluation of the teenager. A request by Mr. Kluge to have his client examined by a court expert to determine his competency for trial was approved May 23 by Judge Borer.
Young Fay is being held in the Wood County Juvenile Detention Facility in Bowling Green. Putnam County does not have a youth facility.
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