Darnell Bitting, 32, of Akron will spend the rest of his life in prison for the shooting death of 4-year-old Janaya Swain back in February outside his Akron home.
Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Christine Croce handed down the sentence Wednesday, adding that Bitting will not be eligible for parole for 56 and a half years. Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said in a statement that the "hope is that (the) sentence brings Janaya's family some peace."
See the full press release from Summit County Prosecutor Bevan Walsh's office below:
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced today that Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Christine Croce sentenced Darnell Bitting, 32 of Georgia Street in Akron, to life in prison for the shooting death of 4-year-old Janaya Swain. Bitting will be eligible for parole after serving 56 ½ years.
On Friday, October 5, 2018 a Summit County jury found Bitting guilty of the following charges:
“This tragedy will leave its mark for years to come. Four-year-old Janaya was full of life and always there to help a friend. She will be sorely missed,” said Prosecutor Walsh. “We are pleased to know the man responsible for her death will never again have the chance to hurt an innocent life. Our hope is that today’s sentence brings Janaya’s family some peace.”
At around 10:30pm on February 16, 2018, De’Azha Swain pulled up to a home on Mercer Avenue in Akron to retrieve some personal items. Four young girls, ages two, four, six, and seven, and their grandmother were also inside the vehicle. De’Azha got into an argument with Darnell Bitting, who was inside the home at the time. Bitting came out of the home with an AK-47 and fired the weapon. A shot struck and killed four-year-old Janaya Swain.
(SCPO) Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced today a new anti-drunk driving campaign to help keep Summit County roads safe by providing free rides for the July 4th holiday for people who’ve had too much alcohol to drink.
Arrive Alive provides free rides up to a $65 dollar fare for anyone in Summit County who has had too much to drink while celebrating the July 4th holiday.
WHAT: FREE Cab Rides for Summit County Residents for the July 4th Holiday (up to $65)
WHEN: From 6pm Tuesday July 3 to 6am Thursday July 5
HOW: Call 330.475.7888
“I feel this is extremely important to help keep our streets safe. For years I have fought to keep drunk drivers off the road,” said Prosecutor Walsh. “I’ve gone to the State Legislature to have our drunken driving laws strengthened. My hope is for everyone to enjoy the holiday while not putting others at risk. I would like to thank our sponsor AAA Akron, and the participating taxi companies, Rides 4 Less Taxi, City Yellow Cab, and Anytime Taxi for their support in this effort.”
Summit County residents who need a ride home because they’ve had too much to drink can call 330.475.7888. The program runs from 6pm on Tuesday July 3, 2018 through 6am Thursday July 5, 2018.
A Summit County jury has found Darshawn T. McCormick, 25, guilty in a shooting death of another man back on December of 2016.
According to Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh's office, MCCormick was convicted on Wednesday on two counts of murder with a gun specification, one count of felonious assault with a gun specification, and having a weapon under disability.
Court records indicate that back on December 26th, 2016, Javanta Virden was working on a car that was parked in a lot along Ericsson Avenue in Akron when he was approached by three people, one of whom was McCormick. The information doesn't point to a motive, but Virden was shot and killed. A subsequent investigation led investigators back to McCormick and he was arrested and charged.
McCormick will be sentenced by Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Jason Wells on Tuesday June 26, at 1 p.m.
Former Akron Fire Department Union Treasurer Joseph Ruhlin, 41, has pled guilty to embezzling nearly half-a-million dollars from the Union while he was in charge of the funds, according to a release from Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh's office.
Ruhlin, who was treasurer of the department's Union Local 330 from January of 2011 through March of 2017, admitted to stealing about $500,000 during his time in office.
When he was charged with Theft in Office, Ruhlin fled Akron to North Carolina. Authorities eventually caught up with him and he was extradited back to Summit County.
Ruhlin, who is charged with Theft in Office and Tampering with Records, both 3rd degree felonies, is due in Summit County Common Pleas Court on March 13, 2018 at 1 p.m. for a restitution hearing and is scheduled to me sentenced by Common Pleas Court Judge Alison Breaux immediately following.
Kendal Scheid, 23, who pleaded guilty to First Degree Felony Involuntary Manslaughter in the stabbing death of his University of Akron roommate, 23-year-old Duncan Unternaher, was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday.
Back on December 3, 2016, Scheid stabbed Unternaher in the chest during an argument over fast food, according to witnesses. A third roommate called 911, and said that the two had been drinking and began arguing. That is when Scheid stabbed Unternaher multiple times; he died a couple of days later in the hospital.
After his death, there was an outpouring of support for Unternaher and his family from students across the University of Akron, who called him a sociable, friendly, and kind person.
“This was a horrible tragedy. No one expects when they send their child off to college that they will be stabbed to death by their roommate,” said Prosecutor Walsh. “In his 23 years, Duncan left behind a legacy of helping others as well as his positive outlook on life. The outpouring of love and support for Duncan from the community has been truly heartwarming, and a testament to his kindness and generosity.”
According to a release from Walsh's office, Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands stated during sentencing that she would consider judicial release for Scheid in six months, the first time he would be eligible. Prosecutors had asked for a prison sentence of eight years.
Convicted Akron rapist Roland Pyle, 52, was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday, according to Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh.
Pyle's victim came forward to a school counselor recently, alleging that Pyle raped her back in 2013 on her 11th birthday. Pyle was charged with one count of felony rape of a victim under the age of 13 and one count of gross sexual imposition, a third degree felony.
Pyle is not eligible for parole.
On Tuesday, Cedric Murphy, 60, of Akron, was sentenced to life in prison for the 2016 kidnapping and sexual assault of a University of Akron student.
Court documents show that in November of last year, Murphy offered a ride to the victim who was walking home from a night out with friends. The female victim agreed to the ride back to her dorm, but while she was inside Murphy's car, he assaulted her and refused to let her out. The victim eventually jumped from the moving car. She then ran home and called 911.
A later investigation found DNA evidence on the victim that lead to Murphy's conviction in July, 2017. He was found guilty on first degree kidnapping, third degree abduction, and two counts of fourth gross sexual imposition.
Murphy, sentenced by visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove in Summit County, is not eligible for parole until 10 years into his life sentence.
The investigations surrounding former Akron police chief James Nice will be handled by folks outside of Akron. Both Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh and Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan taking the steps for a special prosecutor and team of investigators from Cuyahoga County to take over the case.
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(Prosecutor Walsh / Mayor Horrigan) Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh today requested the appointment of a special prosecutor from Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley's Office to oversee the pending criminal matter concerning Joseph Nice and further evaluate any evidence that may be obtained in the investigation of former Akron Police Chief James Nice.
Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh stated that "a special prosecutor is requested when we have a realistic concern that there may be a conflict in handling a criminal case or investigation. Based on the working relationship between the prosecutor's office and the largest police department in the county, this appointment removes any concerns or appearances that could lead to questions of fairness or bias, either way, in the handling of either the Joseph Nice or former Chief Nice investigations and/or prosecutions."
In addition, pursuant to Section 58 of the Akron City Charter, Mayor Dan Horrigan today appointed special investigators from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office who will be authorized to investigate the allegations concerning former Akron Police Chief James Nice and will furnish information to the Special Prosecutor.
"I am committed to a full and complete investigation of these matters," said Mayor Dan Horrigan. "I believe it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority to appoint special investigators to ensure the special prosecutor has sufficient resources to execute a fair and timely examination of the facts. The residents of Akron, and the men and women of the Akron Police Department, deserve no less than that."
Akron's City Prosecutor's office is moving out from the dark ages into the digital era. The partnership with the Summit County Prosecutor's Office means city prosecutors will be able to use electronic case filing for the first time -- eveything up to this point was still pen and paper. Municipal Courts across the county have long used electronic filing.
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(City of Akron) The Akron City Prosecutor's Office is preparing to improve the efficiency and consistency of its case management system by partnering with the County of Summit and surrounding communities to implement case management software, enabling the use of electronic case files for the first time.
Currently, the City of Akron Prosecutor's Office utilizes an outdated case management system that relies entirely on physical paper files. This inefficient system creates substantial storage issues and results in unnecessary work in copying, moving, and organizing tens of thousands of active files.
"The goal of this agreement is to bring our system into the digital age, in the most costeffective way possible," Mayor Horrigan said. "This new software will improve our responsiveness to the attorneys, judges, and others who need access to these criminal case files to ensure the effective administration of justice."
"By cooperating together with the County and other communities, we are able to defer the costs of this case management system and acquire this valuable software at a fraction of the cost," Mayor Horrigan continued. "I would like to thank the leadership of Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, Stow, Tallmadge and Summit County for combining resources to purchase a universal case management system that will improve prosecutorial efficiencies system-wide." Monday, Akron City Council authorized the Intergovernmental Agreement with Summit County and neighboring jurisdictions for the shared purchase, implementation and use of MATRIX case management software. The secure system will allow defense attorneys and other authorized personnel access to court records in compliance with the law. The new system will enhance public confidence in the integrity of case files by eliminating manual processes and creating a record of when evidence is provided and reviewed in the course of a criminal prosecution.
"This software will allow for better management of criminal caseloads, it will reduce staff time spent on time-consuming administrative tasks like copying, and allow us to automate and integrate internal process as cases move through the system," Chief Akron Prosecutor Gertrude Wilms said. Recognizing the benefits and need for a comprehensive case management software system, Summit County engaged in a review of various case management systems and determined that the MATRIX Case Management system was the best combination of functionality and value.
"We are very pleased to soon begin using the MATRIX case management system which replaces our current outdated and obsolete system that was first installed 20 years ago," Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said. "MATRIX will make tracking information about cases much easier for our prosecutors, staff, and victims, and make the office more efficient. I would like to thank the City and County for their efforts in making this happen."
During the Akron City Council committee discussion, it was reported that Cuyahoga County experienced a cost savings of over $6 million within the first 9 months of switching to the MATRIX case management system, while also reducing the time it took cases to move through the system.
A Summit County sheriff's deputy is facing charges he raped a 26-year old Akron woman.
Prosecutors say 46-year old Antonio Williamson was indicted on rape, kidnapping, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition charges, all felonies. He turned himself in to authorities this morning and will be arraigned tomorrow.
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(Summit County Prosecutor) Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced today that a Summit County Grand Jury handed up an indictment against 46-year-old Antonio Williamson on charges he sexually assaulted a 26-year-old woman. Williamson is a deputy with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.
The Grand Jury indicted Williamson on the following charges:
- Rape – a felony of the 1st degree
- Kidnapping – a felony 1st degree
- Two Counts of Sexual Battery – felonies of the 3rd degree
- Gross Sexual Imposition – a felony 4th degree
An investigation was conducted by the Akron Police Department with cooperation of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office into the allegations.Williamson turned himself in to authorities this morning and is scheduled to be arraigned in Summit County Common Pleas Court on Friday, July 21, 2017 at 8am.
Derrick Sales, 24, of Akron, was sentenced to eight years in prison Friday for selling the fentanyl that killed a Cuyahoga Falls woman back in June of last year.
Court documents show that Sales sold the deadly opioid to Sheena Moore who was found dead in her home on June 9, 2016. An autopsy later revealed it was in fact fentanyl that killed her. Sales was arrested a charged with Involuntary Manslaughter, Having a Weapon Under Disability, and Aggravated Trafficking in Fentanyl and Carfentanil, all of which were felonies. He was found guilty in Summit County Common Pleas Court on April 14, 2017.
In a statement released Friday, Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said, “These drugs have devastated our community and these dealers of death need to be held accountable. We will fight every day for people like Sheena Moore. Sheena never had a chance to live her life. Sheena’s grieving family is forced to pick up the pieces because these drug dealers have no regard for the destruction they leave behind.”
Moore was 31-years-old.
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh was sworn into office Thursday; making history as the first Summit County Prosecutor in the past 60 years to be elected to five consecutive terms.
2017 marks Prosecutor Walsh's 17th year as Summit County Prosecutor, passing former County Prosecutor Lynn Slaby, who served from 1980 through 1995. Former Summit County Prosecutor Alva Russell still holds the title of longest-serving prosecutor in Summit County history, holding the office from 1936 to 1956.
In a statement released Friday, Walsh said, "I want to thank Summit County voters for having the faith in me as their county prosecutor. It has been an honor to serve them."
Demetrius Ford, 18, of Akron has been sentenced to 8 years in prison for burning his four-month-old daughter.
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announcing the sentence Tuesday, saying, "This innocent child suffered significant, painful injuries. She will have to deal with the physical and emotional scars for the rest of her life." The child suffered multiple broken ribs and a skull fracture in addition to third degree burns.
Court reports indicate the child suffered the injuries while Ford was giving the young girl a bath. The girl's mother, 21-year-old Chavelle Grier was also charged in the case. Back in May Grier pled guilty to two counts of Child Endangering. She's currently serving probation. Ford was found guilty for Felonious assault and two counts of Child Endangering.
The Akron man who's been on death row since 1993 may have just over a month left on earth.
The Ohio Parole Board today recomended no clemency for Ronald Phillips, who first began serving his sentence 23 years ago after he was convicted of the rape and murder of his then-girlfiend's three year old daughter.
The crime was horribly brutal; an autopsy found "severe trauma" in the death of Sheila Marie Evans, including damages to her internal organs and more than 120 bruises over her tiny body. Prosecutors said the injureis reflected several hours of a severe beating, then rape, before she died days after she was hospitalized.
The recommendation now moves to Governor John Kasich, who hasn't been receptive to considering Phillips' case in the past. Barring any last-minute court appeals, Phillips will die by lethal injection on January 12, 2017 in the death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Institution in Lucasville, Ohio.
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(Summit County Prosecutor) Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced today that the Ohio Parole Board voted to recommend convicted murderer Ronald Phillips be denied clemency. Phillips' clemency request and the Board's recommendation now go to Ohio Governor John Kasich, who makes the final decision to grant or deny clemency.
In 1993, a Summit County jury found Phillips, then 19, guilty of Aggravated Murder, Felonious Sexual Penetration and three counts of Rape. In January of that year, Phillips brutally assaulted and raped three-year-old Sheila Marie Evans. Evans died as result. Among her injuries were severe trauma to her internal organs and more than 125 bruises to her face, torso, arms, legs and genitalia.
"Phillips brutally beat and assaulted Sheila Marie over several hours. She suffered for days before dying from her injuries. Phillips deserves the ultimate punishment for what he did," said Prosecutor Walsh. "This is the third time the Ohio Parole Board has denied Phillips clemency. My hope is that Governor Kasich follows the Parole Board's recommendation and denies Phillips clemency and gives peace to Sheila's family."
In its recommendation against clemency, the Board cited several reasons, and again called the repeated beating and rape of Sheila Marie Evans "clearly among the worst of the worst capital crimes."
Phillip's execution is scheduled for January 12, 2017.
A young father who burned his baby daughter while giving her a bath will be sentenced next month on felonious assault and child endangering charges.
Prosecutors say 18-year old Demetrius Ford of Akron guilty of the charges. His daughter was severely burned with second and third degree burns on her body and face after being held in scalding hot water; she also suffered a skull fracture and broken ribs. Ford was 17 at the time. The child's mother, 21-year old Chavelle Fries, is currently on probation after pleading guilty to two counts of child endangering.
Ford is scheduled to be sentenced December 27th.
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(Summit County Prosecutor) Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced today that a Summit County jury found Demetrius Ford, 18, of Cumberland Drive in Akron, guilty of burning his four-month old daughter.
Ford was found guilty of the following charges:
Felonious Assault – a felony of the 2nd degree
Two Counts of Child Endangering – felonies of the 2nd degree
In February of 2016, Ford, who was 17-years-old at the time, was giving his four-month old daughter a bath. The infant suffered severe second and third degree burns to her face, shoulders, and chest. At trial, a child abuse expert testified the baby was purposefully submerged in the scalding hot water. Investigators also discovered the baby suffered a skull fracture and broken ribs.
The child's mother, 21-year-old Chavelle Grier, was also charged in the case. On May 10, 2016, Grier pled guilty to two counts of Child Endangering and is currently on probation.
On July 27, 2016, Juvenile Court Judge Linda Teodosio ruled Ford was not amenable to rehabilitation in the juvenile court and the case was bound over to Summit County Common Pleas Court.
Ford is scheduled to be sentenced on December 27, 2016 at 9am.
A man who was a teenager when he raped and murdered his three year old half-sister will have life in prison to remember his crime.
Juvenile Court Judge Linda Teodosio sentenced D'Marques Jones of Barberton, now 20, to the life term with the eligibility of parole after 25 years. Jones was only 15 when his sister, Makayla, was taken to the hospital. Doctors later said the injuries were so horrific they included a perforated colon; the child was taken off life support after a few days at the hospital. At the time of the crime, the Summit County Prosecutor's Office tried to have Jones tried as an adult but he was ruled "amenable to rehabilitation" and was found guilty of murder and rape in Juvenile Court. He received a "blended" sentence, which allowed for him to serve time in custody until the age of 21 at which point he could have been released.
Teodosio ruled Jones would have to serve the remainder of the sentence as an adult after he refused to take a court-ordered treatment program for sex offenders, then didn't complete the program. He never expressed remorse for his actions.
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(Summit County Prosecutor) Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced today that on Wednesday November 23, 2016, Summit County Juvenile Court Judge Linda Teodosio sentenced D'Marques Jones, 20, of Barberton, to life in prison, invoking the adult portion of Jones' 2013 juvenile court sentence. Jones will be eligible for parole after 25 years.
In 2011, Jones was 15 when he brutally raped and murdered his 3-year-old half-sister Makayla. Doctors discovered Makayla's colon was perforated and she was septic. Makayla died a few days later when she was taken off life support. At the time, the Summit County Prosecutor's Office fought to have Jones tried as an adult for the crime. The Summit County Juvenile Court determined Jones was amenable to rehabilitation and retained jurisdiction.
On December 13, 2012, a Summit County jury found Jones guilty of Murder and Rape. Because of changes to the law, this was the first jury trial in Summit County Juvenile Court history.
In January of 2013, Jones received a "blended" juvenile and adult sentence, and was placed in the custody of the Ohio Department of Youth Services until his 21st birthday. With a blended sentence, the juvenile is required to successfully complete all required programs and have no conduct violations by age 21. If they are successful, they are released from incarceration. If they are not successful, the juvenile may be ordered to complete the additional adult sentence. The Department of Youth Services maintains jurisdiction over a juvenile until they turn 21.
Following the jury's verdict, Jones refused to engage in court ordered sex offender treatment. Three years after his sentence, in March of 2016, Jones eventually agreed to be placed in the first of two phases of sex offender treatment but did not successfully complete that program. ODYS records documented Jones' desire to put off his treatment as long as possible, and he never expressed remorse towards his victim for what he did. Even at his sentencing hearing, D'Marques Jones gave an impassioned plea to the court apologizing for not working harder at treatment and for the harm he's done his family, but never once did he acknowledge the harm he did to his 3-year-old victim.
The Prosecutor's Office requested the Court to impose the suspended adult sentence to protect the community from the substantial risk Jones posed upon his imminent release: as an untreated and unsupervised sex offender and murderer. The Court recognized that risk and granted the State's Motion. The average juvenile sex offender sent to the ODYS spends between one and one-and-a-half years there, and is able to complete sex offender treatment in seven to nine months. D'Marques Jones was committed to ODYS for over three-and-a-half-years and could not successfully complete even half the sex offender treatment program.
"Our job is to protect the community and keep the citizens of Summit County safe," said Prosecutor Walsh. "D'Marques Jones refused to undergo sex offender treatment after he raped and murdered his 3-year-old sister. Allowing him to go into the community untreated and unsupervised after such a heinous crime was not an option."
Jones was also labeled a Tier III sex offender. If Jones is ever released from prison, he will have to register with the local sheriff's department every 90 days for the rest of his life.
A fight that started inside the Desiree's strip club in Norton and ended in a death outside on the parking lot is sending a local man to prison for eight years. 37-year old Robert Lantz, Jr. of New Franklin was sentenced for involuntary manslaughter in the death of Daniel Carraway, 63.
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(Summit Prosecutor) Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced today that Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Scot Stevenson sentenced Robert Lantz Jr., 37, of Lullaby Lane in New Franklin, to eight years in prison for causing the death of a man at a Norton nightclub.
On August 26, 2016 Lantz pled guilty to the following charge:
Involuntary Manslaughter – a felony of the 1st degree
On November 19, 2015, Lantz physically assaulted 63-year-old Daniel Carraway at Desiree's in Norton. After they were kicked out of the bar, Lantz again attacked Carraway in the parking lot. Police arrived and found Carraway unresponsive. Carraway was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
"Daniel Carraway did not deserve to be brutally beaten and bludgeoned to death. His family continues to suffer because of the actions of Mr. Lantz," said Prosecutor Walsh. "Mr. Lantz will have eight years in prison to think about how his aggressive and violent behavior led to the death of a Marine veteran who served his country with honor."
WAKR's Ray Horner talks to Summit County Prosecutor, Sherri Bevan Walsh, about her decision to run for re-election. Walsh also tells Ray about a program very close to her heart, Take Me Home.