Lucas County Juvenile Court Judge Connie Zemmelman ruled Friday morning that 16-year-old Dailahntae Jemison will stand trial as a juvenile in a death of community activist Robert Brundage.
Judge Zemmelman said she felt especially "compelled to acknowledge the tragedy" of Mr. Brundage's death, describing the community activist as a kind, decent man who gave a lot back to his community, and saying the attack on him June 22 over a bicycle has caused unimaginable grief to his family.
Ultimately, though, she said she could not allow any of that to factor into her decision to have Mr. Brundage's accused assailant stand trial as a juvenile or adult.
As a matter of law, Judge Zemmelman said she had no choice but to let the 16-year-old stand trial as a juvenile. The youth was 15 at the time of the attack on Mr. Brindage. Consequently, the youth will be eligible for release five years from now, when he turns 21, if he is convicted of Mr. Brundage's slaying.
In announcing her ruling, the judge cited the defendant's age, psychological test results, and lack of criminal history. He has had disciplinary problems at school, but had never been charged with a crime until he knocked
Mr. Brundage off his bicycle. Mr. Brundage, who was 66, ultimately died from injuries suffered in the attack.
All evidence suggests the youth was trying to steal the man's bicycle, not harm him, the judge said.
She said it is "clear the state of Ohio has not met the burden of proof" to have the youth tried as an adult.
Judge Zemmelman's ruling came followed testimony from a variety of witnesses, including a psychiatrist, staff employees at Horizon Science Academy, and juvenile court personnel.
Their testimony was elicited during a series of hearings that preceded the ruling.
The judge disagreed with the prosecution's argument that the Jemison youth has a greater chance of being rehabilitated in the adult system. Prosecutors had said five years in the juvenile system won't be enough.
If he had been tried and convicted as an adult, he would have faced life in prison.