Four Toledo teenagers accused of killing a man with the fatal toss of a sandbag onto I-75 appeared Wednesday in Lucas County Juvenile Court.
Demetrius Wimberly, 14, center, is comforted as he is arraigned on the charge of murder Wednesday, December 27, 2017, at Lucas County Juvenile Court in downtown Toledo.
With family at their side, each boy entered a denial to charges of murder and vehicular vandalism. It was their first hearing since the death of Marquise Byrd, 22, and ensuing increased charges.
Pedro Salinas, 13; Sean Carter, 14; Demetrius Wimberly, 14; and William Parker, 15; all remain held at the downtown detention center while their cases proceed. An attorney for the Wimberly youth unsuccessfully requested he be released on electronic monitoring in the meantime.
Denise Stollings, an attorney representing the Carter youth at the hearing, said in court he understands the serious nature of these charges.
“My client just wanted to express his remorse for the victim and his family,” Ms. Stollings said.
Parents of the teens hugged them at the conclusion of each hearing. The parents declined interview requests.
Mr. Byrd, 22, of Warren, Mich. suffered blunt-force trauma to the head and neck. Police said a sandbag fell about 10:10 p.m. Dec. 19 from the Indiana Avenue bridge.
It smashed through a car windshield and struck Mr. Byrd, who was in the passenger seat of a vehicle. He died late Friday at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center.
Police said the boys threw objects from the overpass, and officers saw them leaving the area. They described the falling sandbag as a “deliberate act."
The killing follows a similar offense last October, in which a large rock struck and killed a 32-year-old motorist in Genesee County, Michigan. Several teenagers are charged there as well.
Marquise Byrd was killed when four juveniles dropped a sandbag onto I-75 in Toledo.
Mr. Byrd, who was traveling to meet friends in Toledo, was engaged and had a 1-year-old son. Family members are devastated by his death, a cousin of Mr. Byrd said.
Lori Olender, deputy chief of the juvenile division of the county prosecutor's office, said officials are not seeking to try the youth as adults.
She cited a homicide from late last year in which a 14-year-old girl was accused of fatally shooting her brother. That teenager had a lengthier record, acted with increased intention, and was not certified as an adult, Ms. Olender said.
“These youth have really no record whatsoever. So, it's honestly not crossing our minds that we would be able to get through the threshold that there’s not enough time in juvenile court to rehabilitate them,” Ms. Olender said.
Ohio law allows children as young as 14 to stand trial as adults. Those younger than 16 are discretionary transfers.
Ms. Olender said an additional vehicular vandalism charge comes after rocks struck a second person's car. That motorist was not injured.
The teenagers are next due in court Jan. 4.
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