The teenager charged with trying to break into state Rep. Chris Redfern’s home turned down a plea deal this week that would have kept him from going to prison.
The deal would have inked two third-degree felonies on Alexendar Reitzel’s record, and required him to write a letter of apology to Redfern.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said defense attorney Tom DeBacco, who represents Reitzel, 19.
Ottawa County Prosecutor Mark Mulligan made the offer, which DeBacco didn’t think twice about rejecting. Reitzel is innocent and Mulligan overcharged him as a favor to a political friend, DeBacco said. “It would have been a good offer if he was guilty,” DeBacco said.
Reitzel, who has no prior criminal history, was allegedly trying to break into Redfern’s Catawba home back in December. The home was on the market and Redfern recently sold it for $840,000.
His client was interested in the home, DeBacco said, and became infatuated with the idea of buying it.
“He told a contractor to (halt an expensive) construction project to his family’s (current) home,” DeBacco said. “His family was moving, he told them.”
According to DeBacco, Reitzel’s father is a well-to-do financial adviser with the means to buy the home.
DeBacco said Reitzel has obsessive-compulsive disorder: an anxiety affliction that often forces a person to repeat acts, over and over. “If you touch a door knob once, you touch it (several) times,” DeBacco said.
Mulligan has said Reitzel was on the property for more than an hour, which justifies the burglary charges a grand jury indicted him on just a few days after Reitzel was videotaped on Redfern’s property by security cameras.
The teenager never went into the home but looked inside windows and through doorways. Nothing was damaged or taken from the home.
Visiting Judge Dale Crawford refused to order Mulligan to obtain and provide DeBacco all of the video footage from the surveillance cameras, suggesting he ask Redfern to voluntarily provide it.
DeBacco said Reitzel’s OCD was another reason why Reitzel lingered at the property for about 45 minutes, not an hour as Mulligan has suggested.
“He’s a good kid, he’s not a bad kid,” DeBacco said. “We try to help people like (Reitzel).”
DeBacco has said from the start that Mulligan has mishandled the investigation and over-charged Reitzel as a result of Mulligan’s close ties to Redfern.
Mulligan and Redfern are both longtime power brokers in the county and both are Democrats. Redfern also serves as the Ohio Democratic Party chairman.
“I don’t blame Redfern for any of this,” DeBacco said. “I blame Mulligan.”
If convicted on the burglary charges Reitzel could be sentenced to prison for up to six years.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
•Dec. 7: Reitzel found by Catawba police on Redfern’s property.
•Dec. 12: Reitzel indicted on two counts of attempted burglary.
•Jan. 31: Judge Bruce Winters recuses himself due to a contentious relationship with Redfern.
•April 25: Visiting Judge Dale Crawford denies DeBacco’s request for Mulligan and Redfern’s phone records and for any additional surveillance video that might have been edited from what was provided.
•May 12: Reitzel, DeBacco reject plea deal.