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Expressing frustration with repeated delays in the case, a judge in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday continued the trial of a West Toledo liquor store employee charged with selling vodka to a minor linked to a friend’s fatal traffic crash.
“This case is probably the oldest case on my docket and the only misdemeanor that I have on my docket,” Judge James Bates said. “It’s not very complicated, and it’s not going to be very long. I have murder cases that I’ve handled in less time than this case.”
Nicholas Thompson, 38, of 340 S. Reynolds Rd. was scheduled to go to trial Tuesday for selling or furnishing intoxicating liquor to a minor.
An employee of Foxx Liquor Store, 5341 Dorr St., he is charged with selling alcohol Feb. 1, 2013, to an underage friend of Brian Hoeflinger, 18, an Ottawa Hills High School senior who was killed later that night after drinking at a friend’s birthday party and then driving.
Louis Kountouris, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, told the court he had been in discussions about the case with attorneys for Mr. Thompson and “anticipated a resolution.” Because of that, he said, he told witnesses in the case, including two who live out of town, they did not need to appear in court Tuesday. He then asked the court for a two-week continuance.
Judge Bates reset the trial for April 14.
“At some point in time we have to pull the trigger,” the judge said. “We just have to try the case.”
Rick Kerger, who along with former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andy Douglas is representing Mr. Thompson, previously requested new trial dates when he took over as counsel and when he had not gotten access to video recordings taken during a search at Foxx Liquor.
“In a way, we’re disappointed because we were prepared to refute the charges and now we have to wait,” he said after the brief hearing.
In August, the Ohio Division of Liquor Control terminated its liquor-agency contract with Foxx Liquor and filed a complaint with the Ohio Liquor Control Commission seeking to revoke the store’s permit to sell beer and wine.