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DeWine botched Burdine

Register • Sep 25, 2014 at 7:07 AM

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wants you to believe his investigators did a thorough job reviewing the 2007 death of Craig Burdine at the Sandusky County Jail.

We say don't believe it.

DeWine wants you to believe evidence was fairly and thoroughly presented to a grand jury before it determined last week that there was no wrongdoing leading up to the jailhouse death on Aug. 11, 2007.

We say don't believe it.

The evidence of what happened to Craig Burdine at the Sandusky County Jail never was reviewed, immediately after Burdine's death, or by DeWine's team during the past year.

Local officials refused to conduct an investigation when he died in their custody, suffering from severe injuries and after being Tasered repeatedly by a jail guard.

But the guards, Fremont police officers and EMTs who were eyewitnesses to what happened were never interviewed — never questioned — as part of a criminal investigation, including during DeWine's shallow criminal probe begun in August 2013.

It also appears none of those eyewitnesses pleaded the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, so it's not clear why they weren't subpoenaed by DeWine to testify.

It appears, in fact, that not one involved eyewitness was called before DeWine's grand jury during 10 weeks of hearings. The people who did testify were primarily the same local law enforcement officials who refused to do a criminal investigation in the first place, DeWine's investigators, and others with no first-hand knowledge of what occurred when Burdine died.

They all talked with each other, it seems, and conjectured what happened without seeing it, or ever talking to anyone who actually saw what happened.

It appears from this vantage point — plain and clear — that DeWine's probe proved to be nothing more than a pretend investigation based on and designed to support the previous “official story” any way it could.

This was DeWine's third Sandusky County grand jury in as many years probing alleged wrongdoing by local law enforcement; it was the third that finished without any indictments.

We understand why Jess Burdine, Craig's father, and Mike and Shannon Limberios, whose son's death investigation in 2012 was similarly botched and degrading by local officials and DeWine, continue fighting for their sons.

We understand why the families of other crime victims in Sandusky County with similar stories have filed multiple lawsuits or lodged other complaints alleging misconduct by the sheriff and the Fremont police, the county prosecutor and the coroner. We understand why they are petitioning Gov. John Kasich asking for action. 

The leadership of each county agency has looked away from their individual and shared responsibilities, the families contend, and failed to hold themselves and their staffs accountable to the public.

DeWine told another newspaper it wasn't his job to hold them accountable, either.

“It is only up to the voters of the county to make a determination as to whether their elected officials are performing their duties or not performing their duties,” he said last week, after the Burdine grand jury no-billed the investigation. “They’re the ones who have to make those judgments."

That's true for DeWine, too, in his re-election bid against Democrat David Pepper, and what every voter should consider when they cast ballots this fall. 

It's not about Party, it's about performance. 


Watch Jess Burdine — LIVE — on Between the Lines at noon Thursday at sanduskyregister.com and with anytime demand viewing after the program. 

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