YOUNGSTOWN Witness jailed after his absence at trial
The witness will be segregated from other inmates and get paid $25 for each day he's held in jail.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A North Side man is in Mahoning County Jail today, awaiting a hearing to explain why he didn't show up to testify in a murder trial two weeks ago.
Charles Scott, 19, of Guadalupe Avenue had little to say Monday during a brief hearing before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of common pleas court.
Scott is one of three people subpoenaed by prosecutors to testify during the trial of Frederick Easterly, which began July 16.
Judge Krichbaum suspended the trial after jurors heard testimony from five witnesses, mostly police officers. Assistant Prosecutor Patrick Pochiro has said he cannot proceed without testimony from Scott and two other eyewitnesses.
A warrant was issued for their arrest on the grounds that they are material witnesses in the trial. Pochiro said police picked up Scott on Thursday. He said there is no information on the whereabouts of the other two witnesses.
Under lock and key: Judge Krichbaum ordered that Scott be kept in jail without bond until the trial resumes. For his safety, Scott is to be separated from inmates charged with or convicted of crimes.
He also will be paid $25 by the state for each day he's jailed, Judge Krichbaum said. That's because Ohio law requires such compensation for material witnesses who are being held against their will.
A hearing will be set during which Scott will be able to explain why he did not answer the subpoena. If Judge Krichbaum isn't satisfied with the explanation, he could find Scott in contempt of court and sentence him to jail.
"You'd better understand something right here and now," the judge told Scott. "If you deliberately disobeyed an order of this court, you will be appropriately punished."
In the meantime, court officials are awaiting rulings from the 7th District Court of Appeals on whether a mistrial should be declared and whether Easterly should be released from jail.
Pochiro asked for a mistrial based on the witnesses' failure to show up. He does not believe that would prevent the state from bringing Easterly to trial again, however.
Judge Krichbaum, though, said he believes double jeopardy would apply and denied Pochiro's request. Ohio law does not allow a person to be tried twice for the same offense.
Defense lawyer J. Gerald Ingram has asked the appellate court to order Easterly's release from jail, where he is being held on a $200,000 bond. He says the bond is excessive and that Easterly should be freed while he awaits the outcome of the appeals. The trial will resume after the appellate court decision.