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OTTAWA, Ohio — Michael Aaron Fay, the 17-year-old accused of killing two teenage brothers, will face charges as an adult, a judge said Tuesday during a Putnam County Juvenile Court hearing.
The prosecution plans to present the case this month to a grand jury, seeking an indictment on two charges of aggravated murder in the deaths of Blaine, 14, and Blake, 17, Romes.
The Fay youth and his mother, Victoria Fay, did not contest the case’s transfer to Putnam County Common Pleas Court during a roughly 10-minute hearing before Judge Michael Borer.
State law mandates a 16 or 17-year-old be tried as an adult in cases involving aggravated murder or murder if probable cause is established. The defense stipulated to probable cause at Tuesday’s hearing.
“You are essentially agreeing to the transfer of this case to the Common Pleas Court. You understand that?” Judge Borer asked the Fay youth. His response: “Yes.”
Judge Borer also found the defendant competent to participate in the proceedings.
The defendant’s attorney William Kluge declined to comment following the proceedings. In May, the Fay youth entered not guilty pleas in juvenile court to delinquency in connection with aggravated murder.
About 20 people plus media attended Tuesday’s brief hearing, which was moved to a larger courtroom to accommodate the crowd. Several in the audience wore navy T-shirts memorializing the brothers.
The Fay youth is suspected in the May 9 deaths of the brothers, who were shot in an Ottawa, Ohio, mobile home. He and his mother lived in the residence with the Romes teenagers and their mother, Michelle Grothause, who called police after finding the three boys and a vehicle missing.
The teenager was arrested later that day in Columbus and gave information to authorities that led to the locations of Blaine and Blake Romes’ bodies.
Todd Schroeder, assistant county prosecutor, said additional charges could be presented to the grand jury, including a charge related to auto theft. He called the defense’s decision not to contest the transfer out of juvenile court a strategic choice.
“I think that’s a matter of strategy that the defense considered and clearly chose that this was the best route for them to take. The alternative would have been the presentment of evidence and testimony at this hearing,” Mr. Schroeder said.
The Fay youth, whose face was partially hidden behind a black hood as it has been in previous court proceedings, sat with his mother at the defense table. Ms. Grothause sat in the courtroom’s front row, surrounded by family supporters. Mr. Schroeder said he expects the defendant will not be hooded in future proceedings.
The defendant’s bond was set at $5 million cash or surety. Mr. Schroeder said he expects the youth will be lodged at the Wood County Juvenile Detention Center through future court proceedings.
If convicted, aggravated murder carries the possibility of life in prison without parole, Mr. Schroeder said.
Mr. Schroeder said it is too early to discuss a possible plea agreement, adding he feels “comfortable with our evidence.”
“I think that clearly this case has touched the community, and there has been an emotional reaction to it. Blake and Blaine were well respected and well liked by a number of people, so a number of people have been hurt by what’s occurred. And I think that throughout this process, hopefully, some healing can occur and, hopefully, we can do something to help that healing,” he told reporters.
The defendant's attorneys sought unsuccessfully to bar media from pretrial juvenile court hearings, but Judge Borer denied the request last week.
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