YOUNGSTOWN Mother of murder suspect testifies before grand jury
Prosecutors granted the woman immunity from criminal prosecution.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A Boardman woman who had refused to answer questions from police investigating a murder in which her son is a suspect was forced to answer prosecutors' questions Thursday.
Beverly Hogan of Forestridge Drive testified in secret before a Mahoning County grand jury.
She did it only after being ordered by Judge R. Scott Krichbaum to do so and being granted immunity from criminal prosecution.
Mrs. Hogan's son, Michael Hogan, is accused of the May 31 killing of John K. Ruble Sr. at a Boardman recycling center. He is being held in the county jail awaiting trial.
Mrs. Hogan was subpoenaed to the grand jury earlier this month but refused to answer questions based on her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Prosecutors issued another subpoena for her to appear Thursday and answer their questions before the grand jury.
Mrs. Hogan's lawyer, Damian Billak, objected, arguing that prosecutors were abusing the grand jury process and using it as a "fishing expedition" to further their investigation in the case against Michael Hogan.
A hearing Thursday was to decide whether Mrs. Hogan would have to testify.
Investigating other matters
Assistant Prosecutor Jay Macejko said the law allows prosecutors to use the grand jury in such a way if the intent is to investigate other matters or other people, which was the case here. He did not elaborate.
Judge Krichbaum agreed with Macejko and refused to quash Mrs. Hogan's subpoena.
Billak then said Mrs. Hogan intended to again invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege, after which Macejko offered her immunity from prosecution in the event that she said anything during her testimony that could incriminate her.
With immunity in place, the judge said Mrs. Hogan would have to testify or face being jailed for contempt of court. Mrs. Hogan went directly from the hearing into the grand jury room, where Billak said she did testify. Because grand jury proceedings are secret, he could not discuss her testimony.
Prosecutors had subpoenaed Mrs. Hogan because she refused to answer questions from Boardman Township police, who went to her home to talk with her about issues that appeared a recent article in The Vindicator.