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4 Toledo teens face murder charges after sandbag tossed from overpass

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    Demetrius Wimberly, 14, center, is comforted as he is arraigned on the charge of murder Wednesday.

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    Pedro Salinas, 13, cries as he is embraced by family members following his arraignment on the charge of murder Wednesday at Lucas County Juvenile Court in downtown Toledo. Salinas is one of four boys charged in the death of Marquise Byrd, 22. Mr. Byrd was riding as a passenger in a car on Dec. 19, 2017, when the car was struck with a sandbag thrown from an overpass on I-75 in Toledo.

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    Assistant Prosecutor Lori Olander fields questions on the murder charges applied to four juvenile defendants Wednesday at Lucas County Juvenile Court in downtown Toledo.

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    William Parker, 15, is embraced during his arraignment on the charge of murder.

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    William Parker, 15, wipes tears away as he exits the courtroom after his arraignment on the charge of murder Wednesday.

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    Sean Carter, 14, center, is embraced after his arraignment on the charge of murder Wednesday.

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    Pedro Salinas, 13, cries as he rests his head on the table before being arraigned on the charge of murder Wednesday at Lucas County Juvenile Court in downtown Toledo. Salinas is one of four boys charged in the death of Marquise Byrd, 22.

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    William Parker, 15, holds hands with his mother during his arraignment on the large of murder Wednesday at Lucas County Juvenile Court in downtown Toledo.

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    The Indiana Avenue overpass at I-75.

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    The Indiana Avenue overpass at I-75.

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The loved ones of Marquise Byrd grieve his tragic killing as they prepare for a series of court cases to come.

But for now, they would still like a phone call.

“I would appreciate if [the boys' parents] could at least call my auntie and tell her they're sorry,” said Mr. Byrd's cousin, Shaveontae King.

Toledo police said Tuesday they filed murder charges against four teenagers — Pedro Salinas, 13; Sean Carter, 14; Demetrius Wimberly, 14, and William Parker, 15 -— accused of killing Mr. Byrd with a sandbag dropped onto I-75.

RELATED: Teens enter denial to murder charge in sandbag killingMan injured after teens throw items off I-75Man struck by thrown sandbag on I-75 dies

An autopsy found Mr. Byrd, 22, of Warren, Mich. suffered blunt-force trauma to the head and neck. He was pronounced dead 8:57 p.m. Friday at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center, according to the Lucas County Coroner's Office.

Mr. Byrd was traveling to meet friends in Toledo. He was engaged and had a 1-year-old son, said Ms. King, 26, of Roseville, Mich.

“Young, energetic, outgoing, lovable. He had a bright smile,” Ms. King said while describing Mr. Byrd as like a brother to her.

Officers responded about 10:10 p.m. Dec. 19 to the Indiana Avenue bridge over I-75. A sandbag had smashed through a car’s windshield and hit Mr. Byrd in the passenger seat.

Police said the boys were tossing objects from the overpass, and officers saw the teenagers leaving the area after the incident. Each is charged with vehicular vandalism as well.

Ms. King said she has no sympathy for the teenagers. They know right from wrong, and should be charged as adults, she said.

This killing has devastated their family, Ms. King said. She recalled the October killing of a motorist in Genesee County, Michigan, who was struck by a large rock. At the time, Ms. King thought it would never happen to them.

“My auntie has to bury her son. He's gone. He's never coming back,” Ms. King said. “She's holding up the best she can.”

Lori Olender, deputy chief of the county prosecutor's juvenile division, said she is not seeking to transfer the teenagers' cases to adult jurisdiction. She said she did not wish to put Mr. Byrd’s family through the court case with no chance of success.

“These kids have almost no record,” Ms. Olender said.

Ms. Olender cited a December, 2016 case in which a 14-year-old Toledo girl was accused of fatally shooting her brother. It was a deliberate act, and she did not stand trial as an adult, Ms. Olender said.

Ohio law allows children as young as 14 to stand trial as adults, but those younger than 16 are discretionary transfers.

Judges in these cases must consider factors including whether the juveniles could rehabilitate by 21 years old, if they used firearms, and whether they are mature enough for the adult system.

Blade staff writer Allison Reamer contributed to this report.

Contact Ryan Dunn at rdunn@theblade.com, 419-724-6095, or on Twitter @RDunnBlade.

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