By Ed Runyan
Officers with the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office stood in front of the county courthouse with high- powered rifles at the ready.
Other deputies closed off High Street to vehicle traffic as a sheriff’s office van delivered two inmates charged with murder to a special entrance at the side of the main courthouse door.
Extra deputies also manned the interior of the courthouse.
Lt. Pete Lucic, one of the officers guarding the front entrance, said the weaponry and extra security were called for because of “several credible threats” the sheriff’s office received regard- ing Monday afternoon’s arraignment hearing for Dale A. Hatch, 25, and Derrick D. Peete, 22, both of Detroit.
“We’re taking steps to keep any of the threats from taking place,” Lucic said, refusing to elaborate on the threats. No violence occurred.
Hatch and Peete are charged with aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, tampering with evidence, felonious assault and other charges in the Nov. 11 killing of Marco Dukes, 32, of Warren.
Dukes was killed by several gunshots to his head and torso during a 10:30 a.m. gunbattle in the rear yard of an apartment house on Elm Road. Police say 40 or more shots were fired in the exchange. Assault rifles were used, and a bullet hit the window of a nearby day care that was closed at the time.
Dukes’ cousin, Larry A. Smith, 29, was hit in the torso but survived, thanks to a passer-by on her way to a downtown Veterans Day event who allowed Smith to get into the back of her car and gave him a ride to ValleyCare Trumbull Memorial Hospital.
The gunbattle, which occurred a short distance from a church having Sunday services and two popular restaurants, was called “brazen” by the city’s safety-service director, Enzo Cantalamessa.
Mayor Doug Franklin on Friday said the shooting has him looking for ways to restore the police department’s narcotics unit because the killing appears to be drug related. The victims and defendants all have criminal records, including some for drug dealing in Warren and Detroit.
Trumbull County officials constructed a concrete pad and entranceway beside the main courthouse entrance several years ago, but Monday was the first time the sheriff’s department had used a van to transport an inmate from the county jail to the courthouse through the new entrance.
About 20 people attended the arraignment in the courtroom of Judge W. Wyatt McKay. Several female relatives of Dukes sat in the front row of the spectator section, silently staring at Hatch and Peete.
Atty. John Juhasz handled the arraignment on Hatch’s behalf. Peete said he planned to hire Atty. Heidi Hanni, but she was not present in court, so Matt Pentz, head of the Trumbull County Office of the Ohio Public Defender, handled Peete’s arraignment.
Both attorneys entered an innocent plea to all charges. Judge McKay continued bond for each defendant at $2.5 million; they remain jailed.