The Toledo Municipal Court judge and prosecutor who handled the domestic-violence case of a man now charged with his ex-girlfriend’s murder said Wednesday the man’s record suggested treatment was a satisfactory sentence.
James Ramey appeared in court last August on misdemeanor charges of aggravated menacing and domestic violence. Police said Ramey that month took a steak knife to Amanda Mangas’ throat when she threatened to leave him. He pleaded no contest to aggravated menacing.
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Judge Joshua Lanzinger sentenced Ramey to one year of active probation. He ordered Ramey not to contact Ms. Mangas, complete a batterer’s intervention program, and undergo alcohol assessment and treatment. The judge suspended a jail term of 180 days.
Early Tuesday, Delta police said Ramey, 27, of Toledo, kicked in the door where Ms. Mangas, 23, resided, and fatally shot her. He took the couple’s 10-month-old son and Ms. Mangas’ stepmother before fleeing into Indiana. Authorities later found them unharmed.
In an interview, Judge Lanzinger said nearly every case is a balance between victim safety and the likelihood of someone offending again. Ramey lacked a violent criminal record, he said.
“Certainly we judges don’t have crystal balls and can’t see what the future is, but the probation report came back that this guy was a moderate-to-low-risk offender,” Judge Lanzinger said.
Had the judge sentenced Ramey to the maximum six months in jail, he could then have left and committed a heinous crime, Judge Lanzinger said.
Although hindsight is clearer, most menacing cases lead to the ideal outcome of successful treatment. The sentence was intended to enroll Ramey into such a program and intervention, he said.
Ramey spent about two weeks in the Lucas County jail while his case was pending.
The prosecutor in this case, Rebecca West-Estell, said Ramey had no history of domestic violence or assault. Treatment would likely be most effective, and Ms. Mangas preferred it, she said.
“Quite frankly, if he had been incarcerated, he’d be out by now,” she said.
Ramey followed the protection order while the case was pending, and there was no suggestion he would violate the no-contact order, Ms. West-Estell said.
He was recently charged, however, in Fulton County court with violating a protection order against Ms. Mangas on Feb. 16. Police said he contacted Ms. Mangas online with a message.
In that case, Ms. West-Estell said she would have requested a large cash bond.
“If you violate that, you are saying to the court, ‘I don’t care what the order says, I’m going to do what I want,’ ” Ms. West-Estell said.
It is not clear if Ramey completed his court-ordered programs. Toledo Municipal Court officials said such information is exempted from public-records laws.
There were 447 probationers referred last year by the court for domestic-violence counseling, Court Administrator Lisa Falgiano said.
The sessions are about two hours, occur once or twice per week, and last for 24 to 26 sessions, Chief Probation Officer Burma Stewart said.
An additional alcohol assessment reviews probationers’ cases and decides on a series of options including no treatment, education, outpatient treatment, and residential treatment.
An autopsy determined Ms. Mangas died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. Her time of death was 6:35 a.m. Tuesday at University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio. Lucas County Deputy Coroner Dr. Maneesha Pandey ruled her death a homicide.
Court records show Ms. Mangas sought a protection order Aug. 12 in Lucas County regarding the knife threat. Three months later, she filed a motion to dismiss the protection order, on grounds Ramey was seeking necessary help. She again requested, and was granted Jan. 9, a five-year protective order.
It remains critical for those in need to file for a protection order, said Audrey Sweeney, a Toledo lawyer who represented Ms. Mangas in her protection order proceedings.
Ms. Sweeney said such orders empower victims to take a stand, alert responding law-enforcement officers, and justify new charges.
“In reality, you never know what someone’s capable of,” Ms. Sweeney said.
Deidra Lashley, executive director of Bethany House, said victims should still seek help from court advocates, shelters, and support programs.
Ms. Lashley recommended those in need contact Bethany House at 419-727-4948, YWCA domestic violence crisis line at 419-241-7386, or National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-723.
Domestic violence is about power and control, and aggressors can make it difficult for victims to leave, Ms. Lashley said.
“That hope is one of the hardest things to give up,” she said.