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Day 10: Just one witness

Courtney Astolfi • Jul 13, 2014 at 3:30 AM

The grand jury charged with hearing the criminal investigation into the 2007 death of Craig Burdine convened for a 10th day Tuesday, hearing testimony from only one witness.

Jurors heard from Fremont police Detective Roger Oddo.

Oddo followed Burdine's body to the Lucas County Coroner's Office the day officials conducted an autopsy and was present for the procedure itself.

Following his stint in the courtroom Tuesday, Oddo said he testified about photos he took in the autopsy room.

The rest of Tuesday's proceedings came after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's lead prosecutor, Matt Donahue, and a court administrator wheeled a large-screen TV into the courtroom. It appeared as if jurors were viewing video the rest of Tuesday afternoon.

No others witnesses entered the room after the TV was brought in, and jurors broke for the day following about two-and-a-half hours of proceedings.

DeWine's spokesman, Dan Tierney said Tuesday evening he had "no new information," on when the jury will meet again. 

Tthe grand jury was seated May 6. In nearly eight weeks since the start, few, if any of the witnesses called to testify appear to have any first-hand knowledge of what occurred Aug. 11, 2007, when Burdine died suddenly inside the Sandusky County jail after a scuffle with Fremont police officers and jail guards. 

None of the guards, officers, supervisors, EMTs or other personnel on duty that night have been subpoenaed by Donahue, and it's not clear whether he intends to call any of them to the witness stand.

Donahue has brought about 40 witnesses in front of the grand jury, many of whom were jail inmates. The inmates who spoke to the Register said they could not see anything after Burdine was dragged from a police cruiser in the garage at the jail inside, but they said they did hear a scuffle and the sound of someone being Tasered. 

Jess Burdine, Craig's father, and Eric Burdine, Craig's brother, both have been called multiple times, and his sister, Laurie Burdine, also testified. All three family expressed disappointment with Donahue. Jess Burdine said Donahue is misleading the grand jury and withholding evidence from jurors, and Laurie Burdine said Donahue took a phone call while she was testifying in response to a juror's question. 

A parade of law enforcement officials who were not at the jail when Craig Burdine died, just minutes after the Taser was repeatedly employed on him, also testified during prior hearing days, including DeWine's investigators.

Neither Lucas County deputy coroner Cynthia Beisser, who performed the autopsy, or Dr. Michael Baden, the renowned forensic pathologist who reviewed autopsy and medical reports and determined Craig Burdine was the victim of a homicide, have testified.

The family contends DeWine's office has purposely called irrelevant witnesses instead and is avoiding testimony from Baden, the guards and officers to avoid getting any criminal indictments against anyone. 

Donahue also has provided the family little guidance and has been hostile toward them at times, Eric Burdine said, and DeWine and the AG's office also have failed to keep the family updated on the proceedings or provide them with any information about the investigation or their findings. 

DeWine agreed to conduct a criminal investigation in August after being pressed by Jess Burdine. His investigation, which was started six years after Craig Burdine died, is the only criminal investigation ever conducted.

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