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Suspect in plate-drop death freed from jail

A 23-year-old East Toledo man who was charged after a motorist was killed by a steel plate dropped from an overpass was released yesterday from the jail sentence he received in an unrelated but similar crime.

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gary Cook granted a motion from Michael Manning asking for judicial release from the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio in Stryker.

Manning served about a year of an 18-month sentence for tossing rocks at vehicles from an overpass on I-280 in East Toledo several days before Dorothy Minggia's car was struck by a 24-pound steel plate.

Ms. Minggia died Oct. 14, 2004, from injuries she received when the plate was thrown from the railroad bridge over South Ravine Parkway through the windshield of her car.

Jamie Pacheco was indicted for causing her death, but a jury acquitted him of murder, involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault, and vehicular vandalism charges in connection with the case.

Manning and a 16-year-old boy were arrested in connection with the rock-throwing incidents on I-280. They testified at the trial that Mr. Pacheco dropped the plate.

However, a witness who testified for the defense told the jury that the juvenile confessed to throwing the plate. Other witnesses said Manning changed his account of the incident several times, saying the juvenile was responsible for the incident.

Ms. Minggia was on her way home from her job as a nurse at the Lutheran Home when she was killed.

Judge Cook also reduced Manning's community control sentence from five years to three years, and ordered that he serve six months in the court's work release program. The release from jail also included an order that Manning undergo substance abuse counseling at a community-based treatment center.

Judge Cook said the defendant, although not the principal offender in the rock-throwing incidents, was an active participant. He pleaded no contest in July, 2005, to two counts of felony vehicular vandalism.

Lucas County prosecutors had filed a motion opposing Manning's release from jail, but they remained silent at yesterday's hearing.

Manning, the juvenile, and Mr. Pacheco were named in a wrongful death complaint filed by the estate of Ms. Minggia last year in Common Pleas Court. Norfolk Southern railway was also sued for allowing the steel plate on the tracks, providing the opportunity for it to be used in the incident.

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