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Published: Saturday, 9/8/2012

Teen to be tried in UT student's assault

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A Toledo teen accused of attempting to rob a University of Toledo student was certified as an adult on Friday in Lucas County juvenile court.

Rodney Price, Jr., 17, of 1919 Cone St. will be tried in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on one count of aggravated robbery; assistant Lucas County Prosecutor Lori Olender, in charge of the juvenile division, said additional charges could be filed when the case is presented to a grand jury.

The Price youth, who appeared in court with his mother, Marcia Price, and attorney, Frank Collins, is accused of trying to rob Kristal Studer, 22, a recreational therapy student and cross-country runner, while she walked home just before midnight on Aug. 15.

During a probable cause hearing on Friday, Ms. Studer testified that she parked her car on Roosevelt Circle, where she lives with five teammates, and saw a man near her car.

After she crossed the street, the man approached her and said he had a gun, demanded she get on the ground, and that he wanted her things.

"I said no and started running," Ms. Studer said.

As she passed the man, she was hit in the back of the head. "Everything went black and was fuzzy," she said.

"… It scared me -- my instinct was that he'd done it before. There was no way he could hit me like that; he had to have done it before."

During cross-examination, Mr. Collins asked Ms. Studer, "How are you at sprinting?"

"Not very good, obviously," she replied.

Ms. Studer ran into her house and yelled for her housemates; another housemate, Jacob Barnes, 20, who was just parking his car on the street, drove Ms. Studer to Toledo Hospital.

"There was just blood everywhere," Ms. Studer said.

Mr. Barnes said at the hearing that he was driving on his street, coming home from a team event, and his headlights shone on a man crouching in the students' driveway.

Unaware of the assault, Mr. Barnes said he assumed the man was possibly putting down graffiti.

"It's a college neighborhood," he said. "Graffiti happens."

At the hospital, police told Mr. Barnes they had a suspect in custody they chased by car and on foot after watching the suspect -- the passenger in a car -- flee from near the scene of the assault.

Mr. Barnes later that night identified the Price youth as the man he reportedly saw in the driveway, police said.

Toledo police Detective Sherri Wise also testified that officers recovered a gun from a cemetery that the suspect allegedly admitted to having.

During Ms. Olender's closing remarks, the Price youth pulled two tissues from a box and passed them to his mother.

Mr. Collins argued during closing statements that Ms. Studer had picked the defendant from a photo lineup based on "a gut feeling. That's not real convincing."

Judge Zemmelman said evidence presented by the state was sufficient to prove probable cause and that his case would be bound over to a grad jury.

Through Mr. Collins, Ms. Price said she was concerned for her son's safety in the county jail and asked that he be placed on community control.

"It would be foolish to release him because he would have good reason to take off," the judge said.

The youth is being held in the Lucas County jail on a $75,000 bond.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com, 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @tdungjen_Blade.



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