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Judge decides teacher was alert when questioned by authorities



Published: Wed, August 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



LISBON -- Thomas Kelm's statements to an FBI informant and to investigators probing a murder conspiracy plot will stand as evidence, a judge ruled.

Judge David Tobin of Columbiana County Common Pleas Court overruled motions Tuesday that sought to have the statements scrapped as evidence at Kelm's trial, set for Monday.

The Columbiana County Career Center teacher is charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder.

Kelm, 35, of Leetonia, and his attorneys argued he had been drinking heavily and taking prescription painkillers when he spoke with the informant May 24 and with investigators May 25.

Statements he made those days are being used as evidence against him, though Kelm argued his mind was clouded by the alcohol and drugs when he made them and shouldn't be used as evidence.

But Judge Tobin determined that Kelm exhibited rational and alert behavior in waiving his constitutional rights, among them the right to remain silent.

Authorities claim Kelm plotted with others to kill a woman with whom Kelm fathered a child; the child, age 2; and the woman's grandparents.




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