Ohio Supreme Court examines how minors charged with ‘unproven’ crimes in juvenile court can be tried as adults



An Ohio Supreme Court ruling could affect how youth crimes are handled.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Eddies Burns was 15 when he was charged with being involved in a series of violent crimes, including robbery and receiving stolen property.

At 17, he was sentenced to 27 years in prison on the same set of charges, including aggravated theft and attempted murder.

At his 2019 sentencing hearing, Burns apologized to his victims – including a woman whose husband died weeks after being beaten up by the Burns and Cleveland TV crew.

During the hearing, Della Watts described how her husband, Willie Watts, 81, never recovered from the beatings he suffered at the hands of Burns.

Willie Watts died weeks after the assault, but a medical examiner could not determine whether it was the beating or a previous health problem that contributed to Watts’ death, Cleveland media reported at the time.

“I would like to apologize to all of my victims and serve my sentence,” Burns said at his sentencing hearing in 2019.

Among Burns’ other victims was 10TV reporter Lacey Crisp – who at the time worked for WOIO-TV when she and her cameraman were robbed.

Crisp spoke at Burns’ sentencing hearing.

But now Burns ‘defense attorney argues that the process that led to Burns’ conviction and jail time was unconstitutional.

Public Defender Timothy Hackett argued in the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday that prosecutors “violated Eddie’s statutory and constitutional rights when they indicted him in criminal charges on charges that had failed. never been referred to adult court, due to the state’s failure to establish probable cause… “

Hackett argues that Burns’ case was directly linked to adult court – with charges that were deemed “unproven” in juvenile court. This process, Hackett alleges, culminated with Burns facing an indictment of 56 counts and the threat of decades in prison.

Hackett said in his appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court that Burns felt compelled to agree to the deal given the circumstances.

It’s a process Hackett told the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday that was unfair and should be corrected by the state’s highest court.

But state attorneys and the Ohio attorney general’s office argue that state law is clear.

“I think he’s a defense attorney doing what lawyers do,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost told 10TV News in an interview this week. “The intention of the law passed by the General Assembly is very clear; he says that during an affair, the case is supposed to be referred – and not parts of the case to adult court. “

Yost’s office filed an amicus brief in support of Cuyahoga County state prosecutors who argued state law allows the “binding” of juvenile charges in adult court and which includes charges that were initially found to be without “probable cause”. in juvenile court.

The Ohio Supreme Court heard oral argument on the case on Tuesday. The Chief Justice said she would take the arguments into consideration. No timeline for the decision has been given – it could take months.

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