Youngstown Lt. John Kelty faces contempt-of-court hearing
By John W. Goodwin Jr.
A Youngstown police officer has been ordered to appear in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to determine if he is in contempt of court for not supplying necessary evidence during a murder trial.
Judge Maureen Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court issued the order Tuesday afternoon for Detective Sgt. John Kelty to appear at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Kelty must appear “to show cause as to why he should not be held in contempt of court due to his failure to provide Youngstown Police Department records as previously ordered by this court,” the judge’s order said.
The order added that if Kelty does not appear, he automatically will be held in contempt and face a stay in jail and fine.
Capt. Mark Milstead said it will be good to have the hearing to clear the air and determine where any mistakes were made in making sure all necessary evidence had been supplied. He previously had said the situation can be attributed to simple human error.
Police Chief Rod Foley said it is not uncommon for pages to become misplaced when an investigator is making copies to supply information to the court for a trial. He said he and county Prosecutor Paul Gains are looking into ways to prevent similar situations in the future, such as a stamping process where each page of evidence and notes are numbered before being handed over to the court.
The show-cause hearing stems from a murder case in which Kelty served as the lead investigator in 2009. In that case, Paul Brown, 34, who faces a possibility of life imprisonment, is charged with killing 17-year-old Ashten Jackson.
Judge Sweeney on Monday declared a mistrial when it was determined that Kelty did not supply all the necessary evidence and paperwork to the court concerning his investigation into the murder case.
It was late last week when it was learned that both Robert Andrews, assistant county prosecutor handling the case, and Atty. Anthony Meranto, representing Brown, had not been given a witness statement collected by police.
The discovery of the missing evidence caused a furor in the case that carried over to this week when Andrews and Meranto also learned additional evidence was not handed over by the police department.
The victim’s mother, April Jackson, testified that she went to Youngstown detectives and asked to speak to Brown concerning her son’s whereabouts. The request was granted, but there is no mention of the meeting in police notes or videos handed over to prosecutors or Meranto.
Judge Sweeney cited the lack of evidence turned over by the police department on both occasions as reasons for granting Meranto’s mistrial request. Brown will return to court for a new trial June 18.