The Retrial of Thomas Ricks
Accused killers, rapist to stand trial
May 7, 2015 at 12:29 PM
There was no dealmaking or hand-shaking Monday in a bustling Erie County Common Pleas Court — just the stone-cold certainty that three accused killers and an alleged rapist will stand before juries in the coming weeks and months.
Accused killer Tommy Reogas, 36, of Sandusky, refused a plea deal in his case and is now slated for trial May 12. Accused killer Michael Milner, 25, of Sandusky, who has previously refused a plea deal, is now scheduled for trial July 8. Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter is pursuing this as a capital case.
Accused rapist and kidnapper Brian Jury, 38, of Groton Township, was supposed to stand trial this week, but his case was delayed and is being rescheduled.
Convicted killer Thomas Ricks, 29, a state inmate, refused a plea deal in his re-trial, which means he’ll have his day in court again on a murder charge.
The developments came in a tizzy of court action beginning at about 1 p.m. Monday, then continuing into the afternoon.
The Reogas case is in Judge Tygh Tone’s court, while the other three are with Judge Roger Binette. All four men remain in Erie County jail pending the outcome of their cases.
Reogas allegedly used a staple-hammer to fatally bludgeon John Debski in July 2012 inside a Wilbert Street home. He’s also accused of holding a woman captive for three days in a hotel room and assaulting a man who confronted him about the kidnapping.
He’s charged with a host of crimes, including aggravated murder, kidnapping, felonious assault and aggravated robbery.
Reogas opted not to appear Monday for a final opportunity to offer a plea in the case, and has instead chosen to take his case to trial. If convicted on the aggravated murder charge alone, he could face life in prison.
Milner is accused of delivering a fatal blow to 3-year-old Owen Barker on July 30, 2012, inside a Fulton Street apartment. He was babysitting the child for his then-girlfriend, Danielle Flannery, who has since been sentenced to 11 years in prison for permitting child abuse.
Among his charges: aggravated murder, murder and child endangering. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Baxter said he offered to dismiss the aggravated murder charge and also eliminate the possibility of life without parole, in exchange for a guilty plea. Had Milner accepted, it would have been up to Judge Binette to hand down a sentence ranging anywhere from 20 years to life in prison.
Milner and his attorney refused the offer and are opting to take the case to trial, according to Erie County officials.
Jury kidnapped a woman at gunpoint in Lorain County on Nov. 1 and took her to his Strecker Road property in Groton Township, where he repeatedly raped her inside a camper, Erie County deputies have said. When Jury left the scene, the woman — bound and gagged — escaped from the camper and was rescued by passersby. Jury was arrested hours later in Lorain, carrying two loaded guns.
He was charged with attempted murder, five counts of rape, two counts of kidnapping and one count of felonious assault. Selection of the jury in this case was supposed to start today, with the trial starting later this week, but it has been delayed and is now being rescheduled, according to court officials.
Ricks was convicted of aggravated murder in 2010 and sentenced to life in prison for the March 2008 shooting death of Calvin Harper Jr. Ricks was hired by a Detroit drug dealer to kill Harper so they could rob him of $20,000 in drug money.
The Ohio Supreme Court reviewed the case and, in January 2013, decided hearsay testimony had been admitted into the trial proceedings. The case was sent back to Erie County Common Pleas Court for retrial.
The Erie County prosecutor’s office has offered Ricks the opportunity to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of 30 years to life in prison, but he, too, has decided to take his case to trial.