By joe gorman
Judge Maureen Sweeney denied defense motions by attorneys for five men accused of being part of an East Side street gang.
In a ruling issued in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court on Friday, Judge Sweeney denied motions to sever and motions to dismiss, and she also ruled that crimes prosecutors say made the men members of the gang did not exceed the statute of limitations.
Judge Sweeney had a hearing earlier this week in which she heard arguments on the motions from defense attorneys and Assistant Prosecutor Martin Desmond, who opposed all of them.
The five defendants who filed the motions are Darrell Mason, 23; Curtis Jones, 20; Devante Gilmore, 21; Graylin Folmar, 24; and Charles E. Moore, 22.
They and five others are accused of being a part of the Vic Boys street gang. They face charges ranging from participating in a criminal gang to drug trafficking and weapons violations.
They were indicted in August.
Attorneys for the men argued that the crimes prosecutors used to show that they belonged to a gang took place either past the statute of limitations or violated their speedy-trial rights. They said that’s because they took place long past the 270-day limit to bring a person to trial and because some of those crimes had nothing to do with their status as gang members.
Prosecutors had to show examples of at least two felony crimes that the defendants committed that were to further the gang’s territory or benefit the gang in other ways.
Judge Sweeney wrote that the Ohio Revised Code states that any felony can be considered a pattern of criminal activity whether or not it was committed at the behest of the gang. She also wrote that U.S. Supreme Court case law says that a defendant’s rights to a speedy trial are not violated when prosecutors defer seeking an indictment until they have enough evidence to believe a defendant is guilty.
She also said the statute of limitations argument is moot because the defendants are not being prosecuted for those past crimes, but they are only being used to show a pattern of activity.
As for the motions to sever, the five defendants saying they are only connected with others charged in the case through a photo on Facebook is not good enough to grant a motion to sever. She also wrote that defendants are not entitled to have their cases severed just because it gives them a better chance of acquittal.
A final pretrial hearing date in the case will take place Tuesday. The trial is set to begin Nov. 12.