Grand jury watch

Families ask for support on Tuesday at Sandusky County courthouse
Register
May 11, 2014

The Justice for Jake and Ella Facebook group plans to continue its grand jury watch when jurors reconvene Tuesday. 

The demonstration at the Sandusky County courthouse is planned for 8 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. and will be the second protest of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's investigation into the death at the Sandusky County jail of Craig Burdine on Aug. 7, 2007. 

The grand jury was impanelled May 6 and heard from DeWine's lead prosecutor, Matt Donahue, for about two hours before ending the first day of deliberations. 

DeWine has refused to say whether he is seeking criminal indictments in the jailhouse death of Craig Burdine. He also has refused to provide the Burdine family any information about the grand jury's schedule or which witnesses might be called to testify. 

Jess Burdine did receive a subpoena Friday through the mail. He said he called Donahue, who told him he could bring whatever material he wanted with him to show the grand jury. Donahue did not give him any hint about what he would ask him on Tuesday, Jess Burdine said. 

Craig Burdine was assaulted in a fight and severely injured when Fremont police arrested him. Police took him to the jail in handcuffs and shackles, where he was shocked with a Taser repeatedly and died shortly after being dragged inside the jail from a police cruiser. 

Sandusky county officials contend Burdine died suddenly from drug and alcohol abuse and a condition known as excited delirium, which is often used to explain deaths of individuals in police custody but is rarely — if ever — used as a cause for deaths that don't involve police. The officers and jail guards involved all said he was being combative. 

The Burdine family contends a jail guard caused Burdine's death when he put a chokehold on him. Dr. Michael Baden, a renowned forensic pathologist, reviewed the evidence and determined Craig Burdine was a victim of a homicide. He suffocated due to the crushed cartilage in his neck and compression to his airway, Baden determined.

Baden also said Craig Burdine's blood and alcohol levels were far too low to cause sudden death. Video footage from the police cruisers and from surveillance cameras at the jail show Burdine was just semi-conscious. Not a single frame suggests he was being combative as the officers stated in written reports. 

DeWine's investigators never contacted Baden after they began a criminal investigation in August. The Sandusky County sheriff's office and the Fremont police never conducted a criminal investigation previously.

Supporters of the Burdine family and other families with complaints against Sandusky County and the Justice for Jake and Ella group also will be at the courthouse all day to determine who else gets called to testify in front of the grand jury.

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The Register has reported the difficulties numerous families have experienced with Sandusky County officials and has discussed those concerns with Attorney General DeWine in detail, asking questions families have raised. Click on the links below to read more. 
 

• Sexploited jail inmate