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Published: Saturday, 10/29/2005

34 face court for alleged riot roles

BY ROBIN ERB
BLADE STAFF WRITER

One by one yesterday, 34 juveniles faced judges or magistrates in Lucas County Juvenile Court to answer for their alleged roles in rioting Oct. 15 in North Toledo.

But by the end of the day, all but nine of the cases had been continued to other dates, leaving some frustrated parents, police, and prosecutors.

Part of the problem is that under state law, a juvenile must have a trial within 15 days of an arrest, and many of the teens were arrested in the past week, leaving just a few days to put together felony cases, said Magistrate John Yerman, who granted later court dates for the four cases he heard.

It s a mess, he said, standing in a reception area that until midafternoon was jammed with parents, defense attorneys, police, and defendants. In adult court, you d never think of pulling together a felony case in a week.

Still, he added, most of the juvenile cases will be concluded next month.

Most of the juveniles arrested in connection with the riots were scheduled to be heard yesterday, in part because many of the cases overlapped and some witnesses might be called in multiple cases.

Several defense attorneys began their day by viewing their clients in videotapes of the riots taken by police, by reporters, and by private citizens.

I think that led to some pleas or to some serious discussions with their clients, said Dean Mandros, head of the Lucas County Prosecutor s Office criminal division. He was filling in yesterday for Larry Kiroff, the chief of the juvenile prosecutors.

In nine cases most of them involving misdemeanors or low-level felonies juveniles pleaded to charges or lesser charges, according to the prosecutor s tally by the end of the day.

The pleas irritated police, many of whom were working the day of the riot.

Of course they were mad [at the pleas]. They were getting bricked out there, said Capt. Ron Spann, whose detectives had pieced together the identities of many of the juveniles through videotape and interviews.

He said all of the cases put together by the detectives are backed by confessions or videotape.

In all our cases, [if] we go to trial, we ll get convictions, he said.

Mr. Mandros said juveniles with the most serious charges including those in which the juveniles are charged with assaulting officers were not offered a plea deal.

Mr. Kiroff will consider whether to ask judges to certify a handful of defendants as adults to stand trial for their crimes, Mr. Mandros said.

The flood of riot-related cases, in addition to the juvenile court s routine docket, filled all 12 courtrooms at the Spielbusch Avenue facility, forcing Chief Magistrate Donna Mitchell to hold court in a conference room downstairs.

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



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