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Judge OKs witness to address ‘youthfulness’ of killer in city

YOUNGSTOWN — Kyle Patrick, 27, who was sentenced to 33 years to life in prison for killing Michael Abinghanem in April 2012 in a home on Youngstown’s West Side, will be allowed to hire an expert witness to testify at his resentencing hearing scheduled for April 29.

Patrick was 17 and a Youngstown resident at the time he killed Abinghanem. Dr. Bob Stinson of Columbus has “expertise in explaining issues of youthfulness, brain development, maturity, etc.,” Judge John Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court stated in a ruling approving the hiring of Stinson as an expert witness at the public’s expense.

The judge ordered that the cost of Stinson’s work not exceed $5,000. Patrick’s attorney, John Juhasz, stated in a filing that Patrick’s family was able to hire Juhasz, but it could not raise the funds to pay for Stinson. Patrick “is indigent” and had attorneys appointed by the court at at no cost to him during his murder trial, Juhasz noted in a filing.

The resentencing hearing was scheduled for Dec. 21, 2021, but when Juhasz asked Dec. 13 for the judge to allow the hiring of Stinson, the judge postponed the hearing.

Patrick has to be resentenced because in December 2020, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered Durkin to re-sentence him.

The high court said the judge failed to show he had considered Patrick’s young age at the time of the offense when ordering Patrick in May 2017 to life in prison with parole eligibility after 33 years. Patrick got credit for about five years locked up awaiting trial.

Patrick was charged as an adult and convicted at trial of aggravated murder with a gun specification, aggravated robbery with a gun specification and tampering with evidence.

Patrick’s current parole eligibility date is March 1, 2037, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Stinson worked 15 years on a forensic unit at Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare in Columbus and later as chief of behavioral health services for the Ohio Department of Youth Services, Juhasz stated in a filing.

Court documents state Patrick shot Abinghanem as the two went up the stairs to the second floor of a home with a game system Abinghanem was selling. A witness said he heard a gunshot just as Abinghanem reached the second floor.

Last April, Ohio changed some aspects of its laws regarding sentencing of individuals convicted of crimes as a juvenile. One change gives such individuals a chance at parole sooner than they would have under the previous law.

It does not, however, guarantee anyone will be released earlier than the sentence handed down by the judge, said Ralph Rivera, an assistant Mahoning County prosecutor.

It’s not clear whether the new law will affect Patrick’s sentence.

“The only thing guaranteed is that opportunity to obtain release, which is the parole hearing,” Rivera said. “All of the offenders can serve out their entire sentence if the parole board denies them.”

Under the new law, defendants convicted of offenses as a juvenile are now eligible for parole after 18, 25 or 30 years in prison.

A person who is the primary offender and kills two people as a juvenile was made eligible for a parole hearing after 30 years under the new law, Rivera said.

A person who is convicted of killing one person as a juvenile is eligible under Ohio’s new law for a parole hearing after serving 25 years in prison, Rivera said.

Parole eligibility of 18 years is available for individuals whose crimes did not involve a homicide under the new law.

erunyan@vindy.com

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