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Published: Thursday, 4/12/2007

Police: Teen admitted shooting of Toledo police detective Keith Dressel

BY ROBIN ERB
BLADE STAFF WRITER

As Detective Keith Dressel lay dying along a North Toledo street, his partner struggled to comfort him, sort out the chaotic past moments, and determine where in the dense fog the gunman might have run.

All the while, 19-year-old Sherman Powell, a suspected drug dealer and companion to the accused killer, struggled in handcuffs nearby, Detective William Bragg testified yesterday.

Keith is laying on the ground breathing pretty hard, so I put [Mr. Powell] down, and I m trying to console Keith. You know: Come on. What s going on? You all right? Because I m trying to do whatever I can, but this guy is still moving around. I m trying to keep one hand on him and be with Keith, Detective Bragg recalled.

Though Detective Dressel wouldn t be pronounced dead for a half-hour later at a nearby hospital, it was immediately obvious that night that what seemed to be a routine stop minutes earlier had gone terribly awry, the detective said.

Mr. Powell was laying on the ground saying, I can t believe he shot you. I m so sorry. I can t believe he shot you.

Detective Bragg s testimony was part of the second of two hearings in Lucas County Juvenile Court that moved the accused killer, Robert Jobe, 15, a step closer to the possibility of being tried as an adult. He s charged with delinquency in connection with aggravated murder for the detective s shooting death on Feb. 21.

Detective Kermit Quinn testified that young Jobe admitted to the shooting after his arrest hours later but that the teenager offered at least three versions of what happened.

[In] the first version, he denied being involved. The second time, he said it was an accident. And then, in an interview with me alone he admitted to what he did, the detective said.

Judge James Ray ruled that prosecutors had established enough probable cause to move the case forward.

The next hearing is scheduled for May 15.

By that time, Judge Ray most likely will have reviewed results of a psychiatric evaluation and social history reports on young Jobe and will decide whether the teenager is amenable to being rehabilitated within the juvenile justice system, which in most cases holds delinquents until they are 21.

If convicted as an adult instead, young Jobe whose brief police record includes arrests for drugs and for carrying a handgun could be behind bars for the rest of his life.

Yesterday began with a hearing in which the teenager s attorney, Ann Baronas, sought to close proceedings in Juvenile Court to the public.

Detective Kermit Quinn, had interrogated the murder suspect. Detective Kermit Quinn, had interrogated the murder suspect.
JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge

Arguing that young Jobe s ability to a fair trial has been endangered by a lynch-mob mentality by newspapers, television, and radio, she focused on the weekly Toledo Free Press, which invited readers to call the court to express outrage over the case.

In fact, Judge Ray also blasted the editorial, calling it horribly inappropriate and extremely offensive to the judicial process.

But he said he has sought to insulate himself from public opinion, neither listening to phone messages nor reading the e-mailed responses.

He concluded: Asked whether the harm [to the case] outweighs the public interest, this court is absolutely convinced that transparency over the long haul is a guarantor that closure cannot provide.

The testimony when court resumed for the probable cause hearing was scientific and precise at times and emotional at other moments.

Flanked by uniformed officers and friends, Detective Dressel s widow, Danielle, sat just a few yards behind the teenager, struggling to maintain composure at times.

Young Jobe, meanwhile, looked down, pressing his eyes shut during some of the testimony, as his mother, Diane, draped her arm over his shoulders.

And Ms. Baronas and Assistant Prosecutor Lori Olender suggested slightly but critically different versions of what happened in the moments before Detective Dressel was shot.

Dr. Cynthia Beisser, a Lucas County deputy coroner, shows Juvenile Judge James Ray and defense attorney Ann Baronas a photo of the gunshot wound that killed Detective Keith Dressel. Dr. Cynthia Beisser, a Lucas County deputy coroner, shows Juvenile Judge James Ray and defense attorney Ann Baronas a photo of the gunshot wound that killed Detective Keith Dressel.
JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge

Plainclothes detectives Dressel and Bragg and Detective Todd Miller were patrolling in the 1400 block of Ontario Street shortly before 2 a.m. when they passed two males, who were acting suspiciously.

The detectives had their windows rolled down. Detective Dressel was in the rear seat; Detective Bragg in the front passenger seat.

They began a conversation with, What s up? Detective Bragg recalled.

Next thing we know, the phone rings like a chirping Mr. Powell got on the phone like, Hey, who we supposed to be meeting over here?

Suspecting a drug deal, the officers stepped from the sport utility vehicle.

The first thing I did, I removed my badge from my pocket and held it up, Detective Bragg said.

The two teenagers were standing shoulder to shoulder, he said. I put my badge right in Mr. Powell s face. I said Police. I said Police right to his face, nice and loud so that he could hear me.

Detective Bragg said Mr. Powell bolted, and he ran after him. As the two rounded a corner, the detective recalled hearing a noise that sounded almost like firecrackers.

He tackled Mr. Powell, handcuffed him, and struggled with Mr. Powell to return to where Detective Dressel now lay on his stomach, the detective testified.

Dr. Cynthia Beisser, a Lucas County deputy coroner, testified that the shot was fired possibly less than an inch from Officer Dressel.

Ms. Baronas suggested that Robert Jobe was a scared youth who panicked.

During cross-examination, she confirmed through Detective Quinn that the teenager cried near the end of his questioning.

Mr. Jobe was clear during his series of interviews with you that he did not know that the person who exited the car was a police officer? Ms. Baronas asked the detective.

He did make mention of that, yes, Detective Quinn replied.

Repeatedly? the attorney asked.

I remember once, the detective replied.

And he did make mention that this person who exited the vehicle with their gun drawn took a swing at his head at that time, right?

He did.

And he also made mention to you that he felt the unknown person with a drawn gun was trying to rob him or hurt him is that correct? Ms. Baronas pressed.

I believe he said he was in fear that this person was trying to do him bodily harm, the detective responded.

Ms. Baronas also focused on the point when police questioning was interrupted. The teenager had asked for an attorney.

What efforts were made to locate Mr. Jobe an attorney? she asked.

There were none by me, Detective Quinn responded.

Across the street, Mr. Powell appeared in Lucas County Common Pleas Court earlier this week on several charges, including cocaine trafficking and carrying a concealed weapon. Held in the county jail in lieu of a $150,000 bond, he is scheduled to go to on trial May 22.

Contact Robin Erb at:robinerb@theblade.comor 419-724-6133.


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