Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Judge drops teen from murder conspiracy

By Janice Morse jmorse@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — A charge of conspiracy to commit murder was dropped against one teen but will proceed against at least two others in an alleged plot to kill the police chief of New Miami.

        Two other alleged participants in the still face hearings.

        Following a hearing Monday in Butler County Juvenile Court, Judge David Niehaus said he found enough evidence to support the charges against two boys, ages 15 and 16, who are accused of planning to kill New Miami Police Chief Duane Pelfrey. The judge will consider in hearings set for late next month whether they should be tried as adults.

        But Judge Niehaus threw out the conspiracy charge against a 15-year-old, and will consider May 10 whether charges will go forward against a fourth teen. A fifth suspect, Samuel Harrison, 19, remains in the county jail awaiting a Municipal Court hearing Friday.

        “This case has got a long way to go,” Judge Niehaus said during Monday's often-confusing hearing. “Conspiracy is not an easy thing to prove.”

        Officers, however, testified that one 16-year-old suspect drew a diagram showing where the would-be assassins planned to stand — and in what order they intended to fire. The boys' lawyers questioned whether the diagram was produced under undue influence from Chief Pelfrey, who participated in the questioning.

        One 15-year-old suspect was absent from the diagram, and Judge Niehaus found insufficient evidence to support a conspiracy charge against him. That boy now faces a burglary charge only. The youth admitted he stole a shotgun from a residence, police said. They believe the weapon was to be used in the other suspects' planned ambush of the chief at police headquarters.

        The burglary suspect's lawyer, Victoria Daiker, suggested the gun may have been “a decorative item” that was incapable of firing and she said there was no direct evidence linking it to any conspiracy.

        Brad Kraemer and James Sher ron, lawyers for two other defendants, argued the boys were merely “talking” about what they'd like to do to the chief, and there was no evidence of imminent action.

        But Assistant Prosecutor Greg Stephens argued the group had taken several steps toward making their plan reality.

        They had learned when the chief was most likely to be alone and vulnerable to attack, and Mr. Harrison and another suspect had stolen two guns, sawed off one shotgun's barrel, then hid both weapons, Mr. Stephens said, adding the plan was “basically, to assassinate a police chief.”

        Officials have not said what they think motivated the alleged plot.


Development authority urged
Text of development motion
Police officer taken off duty
Gaines lectures at UC, on webcast
Investing scheme leads to prison
PULFER: Invading the men's hair club
Wehrung asks record be expunged
West-siders speak out on light rail
County, state duel over $8M
Hail damage reports piling up
Live organ donors outpacing the dead
Public military school planned
Condon School artifacts to be preserved in new academy
Boycott group rejects lawsuit mediation
Good News: Hospital to receive funds
Hamilton County Recreation Notes
Killer appeals execution to Supreme Court
Local Digest
New TV show reaches out with rap music, frank talk
Obituary: Albert Vontz Jr. was philanthropist
'Vampire' jailed; got vial of blood
Deputy accused of advances
Employee dies after fall
- Judge drops teen from murder conspiracy
Main Street work to begin
Man indicted in case of molested boy
Warren-Butler Recreation Notes
Wayneville opens Old Lockup for tourists
Assistant superintendent chosen
Butler County Digest
Clermont adding water tanks
Craven murder trial opens
Plans for 2 parks to be presented today
Boater gave his life to save friend
Catholic order gives to UD
Courts facing speech quandry
Kentucky Digest
School pay prompts suit threat
Special session open
State proposes revoking Buckeye Egg's permits