By Joe Gorman
The case of a man whose conviction for murdering an infant in 2003 was overturned last year by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is stayed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, while it is being reviewed.
Judge Lou D’Apolito said Wednesday that the appeals court has placed a stay on the case against John Drummond, 36, who was sentenced to death for the murder of 3-month-old Jiyen Dent, to see if it will be taken by the U.S. Supreme Court or if the 6th Circuit will take further action.
The 6th Circuit ruled in August that Drummond should receive a new trial. A status hearing took placebefore Judge D’Apolito on the case Wednesday.
Drummond did not attend the hearing. He also is serving a life sentence for a murder he was convicted of in 2013 in Ashtabula County that took place in 1997.
Drummond was tried before former Common Pleas Judge Maureen Cronin for Dent’s murder in March 2003. He was convicted of firing into a Rutledge Drive home from an assault rifle, where the baby was in a swing and was struck in the head.
A jury recommended that Drummond be sentenced to death, and Judge Cronin agreed with the decision.
Lawyers for Drummond appealed, saying that he was denied a fair trial because Judge Cronin closed the courtroom to spectators for part of the testimony. At the time, Judge Cronin said she barred spectators from the courtroom because a witness felt threatened by spectators.
The 6th Circuit agreed and said that Cronin’s actions kept Drummond from his constitutional right to have an open trial.
Drummond maintained his innocence and said he did not kill the baby.