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Day 11: Baden arrives

Melissa Topey • Jul 10, 2014 at 5:55 AM

4:15 p.m. — Dr. Michael Baden has left the stand after close to three hours of testimony. Afterwards Baden said jurors were attentitive and asked some very good questions.

3:30 p.m. — Dr. Michael Baden has been testifying for about two hours. Investigators from the AG's office didn't contact Baden, who determined Burdine's death was a homicide, after they started their investigation in August. Baden wasn't contacted until early May after the Register reported there had been no contact.

1:34 p.m. — Jury members are back and Dr. Michael Baden has taken the stand.

12:54 p.m. — Dr. Michael Baden just arrived at the courthouse. Baden, a forensic pathologist, determined upon review of material that Burdine died as a result of asphyxiation, noting the crushed left hyoid cartilidge the man suffered. This was in direct contradiction to Lucas County Coroner Dr. Cynthia Beisser who determined Burdine died as a result of excited delirium

12:46 p.m. — Jury members broke for a lunch break.

10:50 a.m. — A gentleman in a dark blue suit arrived and was quickly taken into the courtroom to testify before the grand jury.

Update 10:36 a.m. — Jury members are taking a break. There has been no witnesses called since Bliss.

Update: 9:33 a.m. — Bliss is off the stand. He testified about attending the autopsy of Burdine.

Update 9:15 a.m. — Fremont Police Officer Detective Dean Bliss has been called to the stand. Bliss was not at the scene when Burdine died.

Update 8:44 a.m. — Jury members have started to arrive at the Sandusky County Common Pleas courthouse. Ohio Attorney General prosecutor Matt Donahue just arrived. Proceedings are to begin at 9:00 a.m.

Original story below



Grand jury proceedings resume today in the 2007 jailhouse death of Craig Burdine. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice clarified a statement made last month about its interest in the Burdine case. 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office has been presenting information to the grand jury, on and off, since May 6, with hearings generally just once a week.

Burdine died in 2007 while in the custody of law enforcement at the Sandusky County jail.

DeWine's office began investigating almost 11 months ago, although it is not clear whether his investigators interviewed any eyewitnesses who were at the jail the night Burdine died. The Register has confirmed that some key witnesses were never interviewed prior to the start of grand jury hearings. 

DeWine's lead prosecutor, Matt Donahue, also has called few, if any, of the Fremont police officers, jail guards, supervisors or EMT's who were at the jail on Aug. 11, 2007, when he died, to testify in front of the grand jury. It's not clear whether Donahue ever intends to call any witnesses with first-hand knowledge of what occurred. 

The Burdine family has expressed fears DeWine is whitewashing evidence being presented to the grand jury. 

The Register sought comments from legal experts, civil rights attorneys and the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division regarding numerous irregularities that occurred immediately after Burdine died, including the failure by local officials to conduct a criminal investigation of his death or a deadly force review.

Burdine was severely injured when he was taken to the jail and he was Tasered repeatedly before he died just minutes after being dragged inside from police cruiser parked in the jail's sallyport. 

The inquiry included other complaints from other families regarding the alleged treatment they received from local law enforcement officials detailed in news articles published by the Register. 

Dena Iverson, a Department of Justice spokeswoman, responded to the inquiry June 26.

“We are monitoring the state's investigation but cannot comment further,” Iverson stated.

Four days later, after the Register reported the interest, the Department of Justice provided a more detailed reply.

“The Department of Justice often allows state and local officials to review matters such as this first, without federal involvement," Michael Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Ohio told the Register in an email. "During that phase of the matter, the term ‘monitoring’ is used to describe the status of the file at the Justice Department. This is a standard term and in no way implies any lack of confidence in the local investigation.”

Tobin would not comment on whether the Department of Justice would change the status of the file at some point in the future to one with a more active involvement, or review, by the federal agency.

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