By Ed Runyan
Judge Thomas Gysegem of Warren Municipal Court dismissed kidnapping and aggravated-robbery charges against two men after a preliminary hearing in which the purported victim admitted he lied about some details.
Army Staff Sgt. William J. Hollis, 29, of Hermitage, Pa., admitted he lied when he told Howland police he was kidnapped the night of Jan. 20 at the intersection of North Road and Adrian Drive.
The kidnapping actually began at an unspecified motel on U.S. Route 422, where he was with a female, Hollis testified at Thursday’s hearing. Defense attorneys suggested it may have begun at a Niles motel.
Inside the motel, Daniel D. Boone Jr., 24, of Leavittsburg and Vienna, and Juan D. Jordan, 23, of Warren, started hitting him, Hollis testified, then forced him with a gun to go with them in his car to an ATM in front of Eastwood Mall, where one of the suspects withdrew $400 from his account.
They went to Warren, where Boone and Jordan tried to withdraw more money, but Hollis fled to the nearby Burger King restaurant and called Warren police, he said. Niles police recovered Hollis’ car two days later in Niles.
A photo at the Niles ATM shows the suspects, which is why Howland police secured arrest warrants for Boone and Jordan.
Hollis testified he suffered a concussion and bruising because the suspects hit him during the drive.
“They were talking about killing me and talking about where they would put my body. That’s when I knew I needed to escape,” Hollis testified.
Under cross-examination by attorneys Gil Blair, representing Jordan, and Phillip Arbie, representing Boone, however, Hollis admitted he also had lied about another part of the story.
Originally, he told Howland police there was a third ATM location involved — at an unspecified gas station — where the men ordered him to take $120 from his account.
But when Howland Detective Jeff Edmundson interviewed Hollis later, Hollis admitted he had actually withdrawn that money himself — earlier that day, before being kidnapped.
Hollis met someone at the gas station at the time of the $120 cash withdrawal, but he doesn’t remember that person’s name, Hollis testified.
Edmundson testified he first learned that Hollis lied after a long interview Jan. 31 with Jordan at the Trumbull County jail after Jordan surrendered on an arrest warrant.
Hollis admitted that some of his statements were untrue, Edmundson said. Edmundson tried to contact the female Jordan said was involved, but Edmundson said he was unable to find her.
When the hearing ended, Judge Gysegem said, “Credibility is the linchpin. It is the foundation of these types of cases.” He said there was not enough evidence presented for him to send the case to a county grand jury.
Judge Gysegem dismissed the case “without prejudice,” meaning “it is free to be filed in any form through [Warren Municipal Court] or — based on the evidence the court has heard — in another jurisdiction, such as Niles, or directly presented to the grand jury if that’s where the complaining witnesses want to come from.”
Hollis testified he is originally from Virginia and has been in the military more than 10 years, has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and is stationed in Farrell, Pa., providing career counseling to other soldiers.
He is scheduled back in Warren Municipal Court today on traffic citations of drunken driving and failure to maintain assured clear distance for a Dec. 3 incident and for driving under suspension and failure to drive on the right side of the roadway for a Dec. 29 traffic stop.