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YOUNGSTOWN Judge drops 2 counts of child endangering



Published: Fri, April 11, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The woman faces up to 90 days in jail when sentenced next month.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Citing drug problems, Darlene L. Shina bargained her way out of child-endangering charges in municipal court.

Brian Shina, her estranged husband, fumed in the hall as the plea agreement was being worked out Tuesday. He said he knew she wouldn't be held responsible for what happened last summer.

In the agreement, Darlene Shina, 24, of Youngstown and Liberty, pleaded no contest to animal cruelty, and two counts of child endangering were dismissed. A speeding citation from August 2001, for which she failed to appear in court, also was dismissed.

City Prosecutor Dionne M. Almasy requested that Shina be evaluated for drug and alcohol abuse by Treatment Alternatives to Street Crimes. The prosecutor said she thinks drugs were involved.

Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr. ordered the TASC evaluation and set sentencing for May 14. Shina faces up to 90 days in jail and $750 fine on the animal-cruelty conviction.

About the case

Last June, housing inspectors red-tagged the house at 3916 Howard St., where Shina stayed with her two children. The inspectors were called after Patrolman Dan Mikus described conditions of the South Side rental property.

Mikus found the house without electricity and an inoperable toilet that had overflowed. Although the toilet didn't work, it was still being used -- children's footprints could be seen in the excrement on the floor.

Unsealed plastic trash bags, their spilled contents adding to the stench, were everywhere. The living-room rug was smeared with human and animal feces and covered with cat litter.

Dave Nelson, Animal Charity humane investigator, rescued Rocco, a 7-month-old bulldog who had no food or water. The cat got away.

Shina's trial was reset several times as she went through at least two lawyers. When she failed to appear in court in February, a warrant was issued.

Liberty police found her hiding at her boyfriend's Millicent Avenue home last month and arrested her on the warrant. Police were sent to the house in response to a call from Shina's father, who had received a phone message from her that falsely related a tale of having an arm broken during a beating by her boyfriend.

Brian Shina said Tuesday that the children are with him. He brought along recent photos of them that he had wanted to give his estranged wife.

He called "Dar!" after court but she ignored him as she and her lawyer, Marty Yavorcik, walked away.

meade@vindy.com




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