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DeWine's intentions questioned

Register • Jul 4, 2014 at 6:22 PM

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's investigation of the 2007 jailhouse death of Craig Burdine could be just a continuing "whatewash" of an "investigation" first conducted by Sandusky County sheriff's detective Sean O'Connell, Burdine's father said Wednesday. 

"Go with only the facts," Jess Burdine, 81, said during a segment of the Register's public affairs talk program on Wednesday. "The officers' testimony is going to mean nothing because nothing they have ever said is supported by the video."

Watch the video interview below

Fremont police officers and guards at the Sandusky County jail all said Craig Burdine was being combative when he was arrested Aug. 11, 2007, and also when they dragged him from a police cruiser into the jail, where he died just a few minutes later. But surveillance video from the police cruisers and the jail show he was barely conscious. 

There isn't a single frame from any of the video that shows Craig being combative, Jess Burdine said. 

Burdine and his family fear DeWine's office won't let a grand jury seated Tuesday see that evidence or hear from witnesses with information that might lead to a criminal indictment. 

DeWine began the criminal investigation in August — six years after Craig Burdine died — because the Sandusky County sheriff and the Fremont police never conducted a criminal investigation. 

But Jess Burdine said he's worried DeWine is providing the same level of service he got from O'Connell and local officials after his son died inside the jail. In the seven months DeWine's been investigating the jailhouse death his investigators never contacted Dr. Michael Baden, a renowned forensic pathologist who reviewed the autopsy, witness statements and other reports and determined Craig Burdine was the victim of a homicide. Craig Burdine died from severe compression to his neck when a jail guard put a chokehold on him while he was still handcuffed and shackled inside the jail. 

O'Connell assured him the day after Craig died that he would do a thorough investigation and "get to the bottom of it," Jess Burdine said, but "he never talked to me after that, never, ever."

O'Connell, who was a detective with the Fremont police at that time, didn't return Jess Burdine's multiple phone calls after that initial contact, he said. The detective acknowledged in a 2010 deposition he was not invistigating the circumstances surrounding how Craig Burdine died and never interviewed the officers or the guards involved. 

It's not clear why DeWine's investigators never called Baden, but the Burdine family fears the reason is they don't want the grand jury to see that evidence. It's also not clear whether any of the witnesses with information that might lead to criminal indictments were ever interviewd by DeWine's team, and DeWine has refused to give the family any information about his intentions in taking the investigation to a grand jury. 

"I stand with Jess Burdine," Mike Limberios said during the program. "He's a veteran. He's a father. He deserves an honest, fair, open and transparent look into the death of his son." 

Neither man has faith in Mike DeWine.

Mike Limberios said DeWine failed to finish the work of a grand jury that was secretly selected last year to hear evidence in the death of his son, Jacob Limberios, on March 2, 2012. Grand jurors determined Jake was accidentally killed but Sandusky County coroner John Wukie has refused to correct Jake's death certificate. Wukie ruled Jake's death an accidental suicide. 

Limberios and Burdine, their families and supporters, and other families that contend leaders of Sandusky County law enforcement have covered up wrongdoing plan to protest DeWine's grand jury presentation, but the AG's office has refused to say when the next grand jury hearing will happen. They also have refused to say whether any witnesses will be called or whether they will seek criminal indictments. 

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Click the player below to watch the interview with Jess Burdine, Eric Burdine and Mike Limberios

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