Year in Review: Crime and Courts

In 2005, the biggest legal story swirled around the issue of mental illness. Could a man who killed a 62 year old woman and kept central Ohio drivers on edge for months, be held legally responsible for his actions? Charles McCoy Junior faced a jury which tried to settle that question. It was the highest profile Columbus trial in memory. Attorneys sorted through a pool of more than 100 potential jurors. Court TV carried it live across the nation. After two weeks of testimony and 4 days of deliberations, the jury could not decide and told Judge Charles Schneider it was deadlocked.

“Your Honor we’ve been in serious debate and discussions about the insanity defense since Friday there’s been no movement. We have been unable to come to a unanimous decision on the affirmative insanity defense for each count,” read Schneider.

After the Mistrial, prosecutors decided not to pursue the death penalty and in August McCoy agreed to plead guilty. He’ll spend 27 years in prison and get treatment for his mental illness. At the hearing, McCoy apologized for his crimes.

“I’d like to say I’m sorry to the Knisley family and for the pain I caused .”

A longer running mystery concluded in 2005. The so called Linden area rapist, caught in 2004 decided to end his case and plead guilty to raping 37 women over a 14 year period. Robert Patton even asked the judge to extend his sentence so he would die in prison. One of his victims- Zella Easterling – was relieved it was over.

“It’s been terrible, It’s been a nightmare. It’s been eleven years for me. It’s been a nightmare the entire 11 years,” said Easterling.

An assault at Mifflin High School transcended the suspects and the victim. In March a 16 year old developmentally delayed girl claimed two teenage boys sexually assaulted her in the school’s auditorium. During their trial, the boys decided to plead guilty to felony assault after prosecutors dropped rape and sexual assault charges. But story raised other issues. Soon after the incident, it was revealed that Mifflin administrators did not call 9-11 when the girl first reported the assault. School district administrators fired Mifflin’s principal – Regina Crenshaw for failing to notify authorities. The principal also faces criminal charges. Crenshaw spoke through her attorney Toki Clark, We maintain she has properly performed her duties under the law.” Crenshaw claimed school administrators told principals not to call 9-1-1 in order to avoid bad publicity. Administrators deny the charge.

The murder rate jumped in Columbus in 2005, the city saw more than 100 homicides. The mayor spent a half million dollars during the summer for a strike force of officers to work overtime patrolling targeted neighborhoods.

Columbus lost one of its officers 7 days into 2005. Bryan Hurst was working an off duty job at bank when a robber fatally shot him. Police Chief James Jackson eulogized the officer.

“We pay a rent. The rent is service for our time here on earth. He paid in full.”

Hurst left behind his wife and baby daughter. His alleged killer is set to go on trial in February.

White collar crime made headlines in the second half of 2005. Noted Ohio State Marketing professor Roger Blackwell was convicted of insider trading and other charges. He was sentenced to serve six years in federal prison. Assistant US attorney Mike Marous says the verdict and penalty send a message.

Blackwell says he’ll appeal.

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