Officials provide name of juvenile
YOUNGSTOWN — The third juvenile police now say was involved in October incidents including theft of a backpack and bicycle near Youngstown State University has been identified and apprehended.
Demetrius Foster, 15, of Clay Street, made an initial appearance in Mahoning County Juvenile Court Monday on petty theft regarding the backpack theft and unrelated felonious assault charges from Sept. 9 and Sept. 18 and other Nov. 25 charges.
The case attracted attention because Youngstown police initially charged YSU student Ezell Brown, 18, with aggravated robbery in the Oct. 14 incidents, but a Youngstown police detective reviewed surveillance video indicating that Brown was innocent and the charge was dismissed.
Brown’s mother, Michelle Ezell Brown, brought her son’s wrongful arrest to the public’s attention in a Facebook video that expressed frustration with what she believed was indifference by Youngstown police to her son’s innocence until she took steps to clear her son.
Police Chief Robin Lees later said his detective discovered the error on his own partly because Brown had no previous connection to the teens, who police knew from earlier incidents.
Last month, The Vindicator made public records requests to the Youngstown and YSU police departments for information on the three juveniles charged in the Oct. 14 theft of a bicycle from a man near the Youngstown Public Library on Wick Avenue and the theft of Brown’s backpack.
Both departments initially denied the requests, saying information about juvenile arrests and police reports regarding criminal activity involving juveniles are not a public record.
Last week, however, the YSU Police Department released a police report identifying Foster for the first time as one of the suspects. Youngstown police have also now released information on the juveniles.
YSU police were involved because they were alerted to the bicycle theft near the library by Youngstown police and spotted Brown, Williams and Bush and took them into custody. Youngstown police then arrived and took over the case from there. Foster got away.
Wes Skeels, juvenile court administrator, said the charge against Foster for the backpack theft was filed Nov. 6. He said Foster does not have a pending charge related to the bicycle theft.
Foster apparently has been at large since September, when a juvenile court magistrate issued an arrest warrant for him on the September charges.
In both September incidents, Foster is charged with the felonious assault of the same victim. The Sept. 18 incident also included a specification that a gun was used. If convicted of those offenses, Foster could be sentenced to multiple years in an Ohio Department of Youth Services facility.
Foster also picked up three charges Nov. 25 — felony marijuana trafficking and misdemeanor obstructing official business and criminal trespassing, according to juvenile court records. He has been in juvenile custody at the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center since late November.
A Youngstown police report says those charges relate to an incident on Stewart Avenue in which Foster was found in a detached garage after having been told to stay away because of an earlier incident. Foster fled after being spotted in the garage and was arrested on Magnolia Avenue. Police recovered three small bags of marijuana in his pants pocket.
A man, 19, also accused Foster of stealing his wallet from a home on McGuffey Road Nov. 25.
Foster’s initial hearing Monday was for all of his pending charges, and the court ordered that he remain in detention at least until his next hearing, but the date of that hearing has not been set. No plea was required during the hearing.
The two other juveniles charged in the wrongful arrest case are Eddie Williams III, 14, and Kurell Bush, 15, both of Youngstown, who had a hearing before Judge Theresa Dellick Nov. 18. The YSU police report spells Bush’s first name as Cornell. A Youngstown police report spells his name as Korrell. Williams and Bush were charged with felony robbery in the bicycle theft and petty theft regarding the backpack.
Both were released from detention after their Nov. 18 hearing but were placed on electronically monitored house arrest. They return for their next hearing Dec. 16 and are set for trial Jan. 10.