Cops and party guests on the stand

HURON Cheerleaders and beer. It's the kind of story that appeals to many Americ
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Cheerleaders and beer.

It’s the kind of story that appeals to many Americans. And it’s a story that is going to continue for at least a little longer.

Former Huron High School cheerleading supervisor Jane Bickley is accused of furnishing alcohol to minors who attended a March 15 party at her Richland Avenue home. According to police, about 50 teens attended the party. Four of them were charged with underage drinking.

Bickley, 46, will not work with the cheerleaders this fall, her husband Shawn Bickley said. The school had to hire someone else for the job while her case winds itself through the courts.

“She’s heartbroken,” he said.

During a suppression hearing in front of Judge William Steuk on Friday in Huron Municipal Court, Bickley’s attorney, K. Ronald Bailey, argued that the police search of the home should be thrown out because cops entered the home without a search warrant.

Huron law director Lee McDermond countered that Huron police officer Matt Jacobs was allowed to enter the home without a warrant because he was in “hot pursuit” of a teen who exited the home and was suspected of drinking.

Steuk ordered Bailey and McDermond to write briefs of their arguments for his review. McDermond’s brief is due Aug. 11, and Bailey’s on Aug. 18.

Four witnesses were called to the stand during the hearing: Huron police officers Matt Jacobs and Joe England, along with Parker Muntz and Royce Lemar, who attended the party.

Jacobs and England testified they went to the home after receiving a phone call from an anonymous female who told them there was an underage drinking party  on Richland Avenue. When the officers arrived, they found a note posted on the front door informing party-goers to use the back door and not to allow police in the home. It also mentioned drinking.

“It indicated there was a party going on,” Jacobs said when McDermond asked what the sign meant to the officer.

Jacobs testified he looked through a window at the back of the home and spotted underage drinking going on inside. Jacobs and England then walked toward the back door, where they encountered Muntz and Lemar.

Muntz exited the home first when England ordered him out. Lemar followed, but when ordered to come out of the house he turned and ran shouting, “The cops are here!” Jacobs said.

McDermond argued that Jacobs was within his rights to enter the home and chase Lemar because he was in “hot pursuit” of the youth. Jacobs quickly captured Lemar and spotted numerous cans of Labatts Blue beer. Both officers testified they recognized Lemar and knew he was under age.

Police arrested Lemar for underage drinking. Jacobs said police performed breath tests on the teens in the home. Two Erie County deputies who were called to the scene did a sweep of the home and found more teens, England testified. England said the teens were directed upstairs by Jane Bickley.

Bailey argued that because Lemar did not have a weapon and there was no threat of violence, Jacobs had no right to follow him into the home. Bailey said there is case law in Ohio supporting his argument that police must obtain a search warrant to enter a home where they suspect underage drinking is occurring.

Lemar and Muntz both testified drinking was going on at the party. Lemar also testified he fled from Jacobs  and yelled the “cops are here” to alert his friends who were in the house.

Jane Bickley, clad in a green top and black pants, sat next to Bailey and did not testify. Shawn Bickley and the couple’s two daughters sat directly behind their mother.

At one point during England’s testimony, Bickley looked back at her daughters and whispered, “He’s lying.”

Shawn Bickley said he’ll fight to clear his wife’s name. He said she never furnished alcohol to minors the night of the party, nor any other night, and  police entered his home illegally.

“You just can’t go into people’s homes without a warrant,” Bickley said.

Jane and Shawn Bickley were both asleep when police entered the home, Bailey said earlier. He said neither parent was aware underage drinking was going on in the house.