Juveniles’ release denied

STEUBENVILLE – Visiting Judge Tom Lipps Friday denied defense attorneys’ requests to release two juveniles charged in an alleged August rape even though the two Steubenville High School students and athletes have never been in criminal trouble.

The probable cause hearing was scheduled Friday but was continued after lawyers with the attorney general’s office said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation is still analyzing evidence that may have been deleted. Cell phones have been seized that may contain evidence in the case.

Trent Mays, 16, of Bloomingdale has been charged with one count of rape, one count of kidnapping and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. Ma’lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville was charged with one count of rape and one count of kidnapping.

Richmond is being represented by attorney Walter Madison, who has offices in Akron and Youngstown. Mays is being represented by attorneys Brian K. Duncan and Adam Nemann, both of Columbus.

Madison made an oral motion for Lipps to stop the release of Richmond’s name and details of the case, saying people will have an opinion of Richmond regardless of the outcome of the case.

Nemann said the name already has been printed and didn’t object.

Lipps overruled Madison’s motion.

Madison also said the evidence presented so far falls short of finding probable cause that Richmond committed the crime for which he is charged. He said Richmond already has been in the juvenile detention center for three weeks. Madison said it will be a detriment for Richmond to remain in the juvenile detention center until the probable cause hearing, which is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 12.

“Not one person has one negative thing to say about this young man,” Madison said.

He added Richmond is missing the positive aspects of a regular life.

“He is not getting that in detention,” Madison said.

Madison asked that Richmond be placed on house arrest, and a number of things can be done to protect the community and ensure future court appearances.

“We do not know the traumatizing effects on a young man (being locked up in the detention center) who has not been in trouble before,” Madison said.

Juvenile court doesn’t have a bond system for defendants.

Nemann said Mays is a scholarship athlete who can’t receive his education while in the detention center.

“He has wonderful family support on his behalf. He has not had any contact with the juvenile justice system.” Nemann said the victim resides in West Virginia and there won’t be any contact with the victim.

“There is a lack of evidence presented to this point,” he said.

Assistant Attorney General Marianne Hemmeter and Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Brumby, both with the Ohio Attorney General’s Crimes Against Children unit, were assigned to the case after Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin stepped aside. Jefferson County Juvenile Judge Sam Kerr asked the Ohio Supreme Court to appoint a visiting judge. Lipps is a retired juvenile judge in Hamilton County.

Brumby said both juveniles are charged with very serious sex crimes and acts of violence. She said the attorney general’s office and the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation have been working around the clock since Aug. 27 gathering and reviewing evidence.

“The facts of the case haven’t changed,” she said.

“The state is working as quickly as possible. (The state) is in possession of witness statements who viewed criminal conduct,” she said.

Lipps said holding the juveniles in the detention center is a difficult decision for the court to make. He said juveniles held in detention usually have some prior involvement in the juvenile criminal system.

“These are such serious charges. We are talking rape,” Lipps said.

“False charge,” said Nate Richmond, Ma’lik’s father, from the spectator section of the courtroom.

“These are serious charges with extremely serious consequences,” Lipps continued, saying the juveniles will be held in the detention center.

Lipps talked from the bench to the parents of the juveniles at the beginning of the hearing.

He said there will be a hearing after the probable cause hearing, if the evidence warrants, to determine if the juveniles should be tried as juveniles or transferred to adult court.

He said there is a low standard of proof in a probable cause hearing. If the juveniles are kept in the juvenile system, there will be a hearing to determine if they committed the acts.

Lipps said the court will review three basic things for whether the juveniles are transferred to adult court or tried as juveniles – their ages, seriousness of the crimes and prior juvenile court record.

The juveniles face up to 10 years in prison on the rape charge and up to eight years in prison if tried as adults. They can be held in a juvenile facility until they are 21 if the case is kept in juvenile court.

The juveniles also face sex offender reporting requirements. Lipps said they may be required to report their address to the county sheriff every 90 days for the rest of their life.