The girl's mother and lawyers involved in the case can't speak to the press.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- As Jackie Colon's mother sat in a hallway crying, lawyers met with Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick for a closed-door status conference about Jackie.
Jackie, 16, is accused of killing a 3-month-old baby in December 2000. Authorities say she is mentally ill. Her mother, Michelle Colon of Austintown, has said Jackie has the mind of a child.
But Michelle Colon doesn't know what the lawyers talked about during the Thursday hearing. She wasn't invited to attend.
She declined to comment to the press because of a gag order in the case. Lawyers involved in the case -- both criminally and in a related civil matter -- are also under court order to keep mum.
That directive came from Judge Joseph E. O'Neill, who presided over juvenile court after Judge James M. McNally's death and before Judge Dellick was appointed.
A friend of Michelle Colon's, Linda Aaron, said Michelle feels as though "she's losing her daughter," and is frustrated that she cannot speak out against the way things are being handled in the court.
Judge Dellick said an Oct. 9 hearing on the matter would be open to the press. On Thursday she met with Jackie's defense attorney and court-appointed guardian.
Jackie has been in state custody since she was 14, accused of throwing Alex Zalovcik out of a second-floor window at her family's Roxbury Avenue home and onto a concrete driveway below, before stabbing the boy more than 60 times. Jackie's sister was a friend of the baby's mother, who had spent the night at the Colon home.
Jackie was found mentally incompetent to stand trial in March 2001 and ordered to spend a year in a residential treatment facility before re-evaluation.
She is being held in the Mahoning County juvenile detention center as officials try to determine where to place her. They have agreed that she should not be in a detention center, but in a facility where she can get mental health care.
Last year, she was placed in an Oklahoma facility, where she spent six months. But Jackie was returned to Mahoning County in April.
Authorities have said there is no state-run mental health facility in Ohio for juveniles who have not been found delinquent. "Delinquency" is akin to a "guilty" finding in adult court.
Judge Dellick had said she would address that issue and organized a meeting with juvenile officials and the press last September to consider options for mentally ill youth, but the meeting fell through.
Judge Dellick said Thursday that state Sen. Robert F. Hagan has agreed to "lead the charge" and has made inroads to address the issue.
Michelle Colon also has vowed to fight for a place in Ohio for children such as Jackie.
Michelle Colon has a lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court, seeking more than $3 million in damages from several Mahoning County mental health agencies and providers, Forum Health and the D & amp;E Counseling Center of Youngstown.
The suit alleges the agencies provided inadequate care for Jackie's psychiatric conditions before the infant's death.
It also accuses the county of wrongful imprisonment and cruel and unusual punishment because Jackie was held in the juvenile detention facility for months before being ordered into a treatment facility.
Aaron said Jackie is happy and "in her own little world" but is not getting the help she needs.