Friday, May 25, 2018
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Police & Fire

Judge loses patience with teen runaway

Samantha Wilson ran out of last chances yesterday.

The teenage runaway who more than two years ago fled police in someone else's car, striking another vehicle and killing its driver, will spend the next three years behind bars.

Lucas County Juvenile Magistrate John Yerman ordered Wilson, who turned 18 on Dec. 27, to be held at a Department of Youth Services facility until she is 21.

Last month, the magistrate released the teenager to intensive foster care and probation, but as she had done countless times earlier, Wilson ran away.

“This case did break some hearts,” the magistrate said after a brief hearing . “Samantha had every chance we could give her. We had her set up in counseling. She was in specialized foster care [and] had the possibility of an apprenticeship soon.”

It was most likely the final decision in a case that has been bounced from court to court, undergone several judicial decisions, and began with a brief but deadly police pursuit.

About 12:15 a.m. Sept. 26, 1998, then 15-year-old Wilson was fleeing police in East Toledo when she sped through a red light at Oak and Fassett streets.

She struck a vehicle driven by Michael Goetz, killing him instantly.

In December, 1998, Judge James Ray in Lucas County Juvenile Court ordered her to be tried as an adult, citing the girl's lengthy criminal history and apparent inability to change despite several reprieves from the court.

Three months later, she was sentenced in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to five years in prison after pleading no contest to involuntary manslaughter, aggravated vehicular homicide, and failing to obey a police signal.

The 6th District Court of Appeals then reversed Judge Ray's decision, saying he abused his discretion in sending the young girl to adult court.

The case was assigned Magistrate Yerman, who - after hearing professionals talk about the girl's impressive changes while behind bars - ordered her released Dec. 1 to intensive foster care that included extensive counseling and a possible job.

But on Dec. 19, Wilson told her foster mother during a doctor's visit that she was going to use the phone. She disappeared but was arrested two days later on a probation violation.

“There has to be some accountability for these actions,” the magistrate said.

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