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YOUNGSTOWN Attorney asks judge to toss out subpoena



Published: Fri, August 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The subpoena was issued in response to a Vindicator article.

By JoANNE VIVIANO

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A defense attorney accuses the state of abusing the grand jury process by forcing the mother of a murder suspect to testify.

In a motion filed Thursday, Youngstown attorney Damian Billak has asked a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court judge to toss out a subpoena that would require the mother of Michael Hogan to testify in secret before the grand jury.

Hogan is accused of the May 31 killing of John K. Ruble Sr. at a Boardman recycling center. He faces a Wednesday trial.

His mother, Beverly Hogan, appeared before the Mahoning County grand jury Thursday morning and said she wanted to invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, Billak said.

He said an assistant county prosecutor handling the case then agreed to a hearing on the motion and she was released.

The motion says that Boardman police went to Beverly Hogan's Forestridge Drive home Monday, asking her to speak to them about issues reported in an article that appeared in Sunday's Vindicator. When she refused to speak to them, they returned with the subpoena.

Vindicator report

Hogan told a Vindicator reporter he was at his mother's house at the time of the crime. He said she was not at the home but that he reached her on a cellular phone.

Beverly Hogan has told a reporter she was not at her home because of a physical therapy appointment. She said she did talk to her son on a cellular phone.

The state's use of the grand jury in this instance is "highly improper" because it is done to help prosecutors prepare for trial and complete an investigation that should have been done prior to an indictment being handed down against Michael Hogan, Billak said.

"It crosses the line because an indictment was issued against Michael Hogan two months ago. This case is set to go to trial in six days," Billak said. "The sole purpose of the subpoena is to compel her to testify when she refused to talk to police officers."

He said the prosecutor's office could have subpoenaed Beverly Hogan to appear at trial but attempted to circumvent the trial process by using the grand jury.

While Beverly Hogan remains under subpoena, Billak said she will continue to refuse to answer the state's questions unless ordered to do so by a judge.

viviano@vindy.com




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