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Officer testifies in Coitsville killing

YOUNGSTOWN — A former Coitsville Township police officer testified Friday that he wasn’t supposed to continue to ask Francis Rydarowicz about his wife’s death after Rydarowicz asked for an attorney — but he did anyway.

An evidence suppression hearing regarding DNA samples and statements by Rydarowicz was held Friday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in the murder case.

Under defense attorney questioning, former patrolman Ronald Craig said his training taught him that if a suspect asks for a lawyer and refuses to answer questions, a police officer should “cease all questions.”

But after Rydarowicz asked for an attorney and refused to talk, Craig asked another question, Craig agreed.

While collecting a DNA sample at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital from inside Rydarowicz’ mouth June 19, Craig struck up a conversation with Rydarowicz about it being a “tough night.”

It led Rydarowicz, 49, of Hubbard, to talk briefly about the conflicts he had been having with his wife.

Rydarowicz also mentioned having been locked up in the Mahoning County jail recently.

The entire interaction was captured on Craig’s body camera. The video was played during the evidence suppression hearing Friday in the courtroom of Judge Anthony Donofrio.

Rydarowicz is charged with aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault and domestic violence in the stabbing death of his wife, Katherine Rydarowicz, 41.

She was found dead of stab wounds outside of the Kings Motel on U.S. Route 422. Francis Rydarowicz also had stab wounds, which is why he was taken to the hospital.

After the video was played, defense attorney John Juhasz asked Craig about his training on interviewing suspects and their rights.

In addition to asking Craig about how he should proceed if a suspect refuses to talk, Juhasz asked Craig about obtaining consent from a suspect before collecting a DNA sample.

Craig agreed that he did not explain to Rydarowicz that Rydarowicz had a right to refuse to have a DNA sample taken, but Craig said Rydarowicz signed a form indicating he understood his rights.

Regarding the DNA sample, Juhasz asked: “Does your training tell you you have to tell the suspect, ‘Listen, you don’t have to do this. I can go get a search warrant?'”

“Yes,” Craig agreed.

“You did not have that conversation?” Juhasz asked.

“No,” Craig agreed.

Francis Rydarowicz had at least three prior felony arrests for domestic violence and had spent about three months in the jail in the months prior to the killing. He was placed at the Kings Motel by his parole officer, police said.

In his request for the evidence suppression hearing, Juhasz argued that DNA samples taken from Rydarowicz were invalidly obtained because Rydarowicz was not told that taking the sample “constituted a search of the suspect’s body” and that he had a right to refuse.

As for the questions after Rydarowicz asked for a lawyer, Juhasz stated that all of the things Rydarwicz said in reply should be suppressed from trial.

“Whether the resulting statements are favorable or not to the defendant, they must be suppressed,” Juhasz stated.

Rydarowicz’s trial is set for Oct. 5.

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