By Joe Gorman
The 7th District Court of Appeals this week reinstated a murder indictment against a man accused of a 2009 homicide.
The court overturned a ruling by Judge James C. Evans of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court dismissing an aggravated- murder indictment against Earl Charity, 27, of Youngstown.
Charity is one of two men charged with the Oct. 4, 2009, shooting death of 23-year-old Derrick Hall of East Marion Avenue. Police found Hall’s body at North Avenue and Arlington Street on the North Side.
Also charged in Hall’s death was Marcus Rutledge, 27, of Youngstown. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter before Judge Evans in January and was sentenced to six years in prison.
Judge Evans dismissed Charity’s case July 31, 2012, after Charity’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss because they claimed the state violated their client’s right to a speedy trial.
Prosecutors appealed Judge Evans’ decision, claiming the judge did not correctly calculate the time prosecutors had to bring Charity to trial.
State law says prosecutors have 270 days to bring someone accused of a felony to trial, but that so-called “trial clock” can be stopped for several procedures, such as continuances, among other things.
Also causing the speedy-trial clock to move forward is if someone is in jail. Under that scenario, someone in jail has 180 days to be brought to trial unless a judge finds good reason to continue the case.
When Charity was indicted in Hall’s murder, he already was in the county jail on two separate charges. He was transferred later to prison in July 2011 to serve a six-year sentence on those charges.
The appellate court ruled Charity failed to notify the prison warden about the pending murder charge. The court said the responsibility is on the defendant to inform the state of his charge. The appellate judges said he knew of the charge and indictment but did not trigger his speedy-trial rights while in prison.
Because of that, the appellate court found that Charity’s speedy-trial time was below both legal standards to be tried within the required period of time.