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Cops and Courts

Teen accused in Lorain murder case headed back to adult court

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    Darius Ramey

    BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE

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ELYRIA — A county judge has returned the murder case against a 17-year-old to the adult criminal justice system.

In a decision handed down Thursday, Lorain County Juvenile Court Judge Lisa Swenski ruled that Darius Ramey, who is accused of fatally shooting Kenneth Shinafelt last year, was not amenable to being rehabilitated in the juvenile justice system.

This is the second time Swenski has sent the case to the adult system.

22080890

Darius Ramey

BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE Enlarge

The judge initially did so after holding a hearing to determine whether there was enough evidence to support filing the charges against Ramey, who was later indicted by a grand jury. Swenski didn’t consider whether Ramey would be better served by remaining in the juvenile system because the nature of the charges, and his age made sending the case to adult court mandatory.

But the Ohio Supreme Court later changed that practice, ruling that all juveniles needed to receive what is known as an amenability hearing before having their cases bound over to the adult court.

Once the case was returned to her, Swenski held the amenability hearing, but before she could rule, the state Supreme Court reversed its earlier decision making mandatory bindovers, as the practice is known, once again legal.

Swenski determined that because she had already held the amenability hearing, she was treating the case as if it were what’s known as a discretionary bindover. In her decision, Swenski wrote that holding the amenability hearing wasn’t a burden on any party in the case.

“The addition of a second hearing to determine a Juvenile’s amenability was a small price for this Court to pay to ensure fundamental fairness of every juvenile who appears in its Courtroom,” she wrote.

The judge wrote that reviewing the factors in the case, including Ramey’s previous criminal record and the nature of the allegations against Ramey that he shouldn’t remain in the juvenile justice system.

Defense attorney Anthony Baker said he was disappointed by the decision, but will prepare to defend his client in the adult system.

“I don’t think the factors under the law outweigh Mr. Ramey staying in the juvenile system,” Baker said. “I think there was a chance he could be rehabilitated.”

Baker has argued that his client was provoked into firing the handgun he was carrying at Shinafelt on the night of July 11 after a verbal confrontation Ramey and a friend had with Shinafelt and those he was with. The two groups had been on opposite sides of the street when the shot was fired.

Baker described his client as having been in “survival mode,” something triggered by his tough upbringing. Baker also has suggested that Ramey may not have even fired the shot that killed Shinafelt.

County Prosecutor Dennis Will said his office always has believed that Ramey’s case belonged in the adult system. He said he still is looking into whether the case needs to be represented to a grand jury before it can move forward.

“My belief is we shouldn’t have to, but we may take it back through to err on the side of caution,” Will said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @BradDickenCT.



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