ELYRIA — The case of a 16-year-old boy who was set to be tried as an adult on murder and felonious assault charges has been returned to the juvenile justice system.
Lorain County Common Pleas Judge John Miraldi ruled Wednesday that an Ohio Supreme Court ruling late last year required Darius Ramey to receive what’s known in legal circles as an amenability hearing that looks at his past and other factors to determine if he can be rehabilitated in the juvenile justice system.
Ramey’s case had been sent to the adult court system last year after county Juvenile Court Judge Lisa Swenski ruled prosecutors had enough evidence to show probable cause that Ramey had fatally shot Kenneth Shinafelt in the head in July.
Ramey’s age and the nature of the charges against him used to be sufficient for his case to be subject to a mandatory bindover to the adult court system.
The Ohio Supreme Court’s decision changed that.
“All children are entitled to fundamental fairness in the procedures by which they may be transferred out of juvenile court for criminal prosecution, and an amenability hearing like the one required in the discretionary-transfer provisions of the Revised Code is required to satisfy that fundamental fairness,” the decision said.
Ramey’s lawyer, Anthony Baker, asked Miraldi to return the case to Swenski’s court Tuesday and a day later Miraldi granted the request, writing that the Supreme Court had found that “mandatory bind overs that bypass the amenability hearing process violate the Ohio Constitution.”
The case against Ramey could still be returned to the adult justice system based on what Swenski finds when she holds the amenability hearing.
Baker said he doesn’t believe Ramey should be tried as an adult based on the facts of the case and other factors that will be explored during an amenability hearing.
“It comes down to is he a violent person? Can he be rehabilitated?” Baker said.
He said Ramey feared he and a friend he was walking with on the night of the shooting were about to be robbed by Shinafelt and people he was with. He also said Ramey thought Shinafelt or someone with him had access to a gun.
Ramey’s friend testified during a hearing last year that the two groups had exchanged words from the opposite side of the street and there was a mention of a gun from Shinafelt’s side.
The friend said he saw Ramey raise the gun he was carrying and point it toward Shinafelt, but he was already running away when he heard two gunshots. Another witness testified that Ramey told her he was protecting a friend when he fired the gun.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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