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MAHONING COUNTY Ex-state pen inmate on trial



Published: Mon, August 26, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Prosecutors say the inmate sharpened a piece of plastic into a dangerous weapon.

YOUNGSTOWN -- A former Ohio State Penitentiary inmate is on trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, accused of fashioning a cafeteria tray into a deadly weapon.

Jurors were selected Monday afternoon in the courtroom of Judge Maureen A. Cronin, where testimony was to begin today.

According to information from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Ronnie Turney, 28, is serving three to 15 years in prison after his conviction in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court on charges of felonious assault, robbery and assault.

He has been in prison since November 1999 and is incarcerated at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. Before that, he was at the Ohio State Penitentiary's supermaximum security facility on Coitsville-Hubbard Road (state Route 616) in Youngstown.

What is alleged

Prosecutors say that while he was being held at the Youngstown prison in November 2000, he broke a chunk off a plastic food tray, then sharpened it to a point, fashioning it into a makeshift knife.

When the tray was returned to the cafeteria, workers there noticed it had been broken and notified corrections officers. Turney's cell was searched and the makeshift weapon was found, said Timothy Franken, chief assistant prosecutor.

According to court documents, the weapon was found next to the toilet in Turney's cell. It was sharpened and had a cloth handle made from what appeared to be a torn bed sheet.

A Mahoning County grand jury indicted Turney in April 2001 on a charge of possession of a deadly weapon in a detention facility.

Dangerous

Franken said Turney is not believed to have used the weapon on anyone. He said such a weapon, known as a shiv or shank, is especially dangerous because it can be carried through a metal detector.

Defense attorney James Vivo had filed a motion seeking to dismiss the case, arguing that there was a flaw in the language of the indictment. Judge Cronin overruled the motion and the case proceeded to trial.

bjackson@vindy.com




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