Assistant prosecutor goes solo

Overseeing fourth-degree felony as first jury trial

WARREN — A Trumbull County assistant prosecutor will be having his first solo experience in front of a jury this week as he tries a fourth-degree felony case against a Girard man in common pleas court.

Ryan Sanders, 27, joined the prosecutor’s office in late 2019, and the COVID-19 pandemic soon began — curtailing any chance at immediate trial experience, he said.

“I did manage to work as second chair twice to other assistant prosecutors, but this will be my first,” Sanders said, talking about the trial of Sherard Garner, 39, of 2258 Crestmont Drive, Girard.

Sanders said selection of the jury is scheduled for today in Judge Ronald J. Rice’s courtroom, which has been set up with potential jurors socially distanced. Also, spectators will be barred from the courtroom during trial. Instead, a video hookup to the proceedings has been set up in the nearby magistrate’s office.

“I will be looking for people who will be attentive, fair and impartial,” Sanders said about selecting a jury.

Garner is charged with two counts of receiving stolen property, linked to a case investigated in July 2019 by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Sanders said. Reports state the case involved the sale of a stolen ATV with a vehicle identification number scraped off.

Sanders said he expects to call four witnesses — and he doesn’t expect the trial to last for more than two days.

The trial originally was scheduled for January, but Garner waived his speedy trial rights after he switched attorneys from Lou Defabio to Terry R. Gilbert of Cleveland. Defendants who are not incarcerated must be tried within 270 days.

Garner has remained free on the court’s pretrial release program in which defendants submit to periodic drug tests with the adult probation department instead of posting bonds.

Gilbert, whose website states he was inspired by the 1970 Kent State shootings to enter the area of civil rights, has been practicing law since the 1970s. He did not return an email from the newspaper seeking comment about the case.

Sanders is a University of Akron Law School classmate with his colleague in the prosecutor’s office, Michael Fredericka, who received his first trial experience in a civil case, Sanders said.

A Howland High and Ohio State University graduate, Sanders said he probably gets the legal gene from his dad, James Sanders, who is the city of Warren’s assistant law director.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $4.39/week.

Subscribe Today