Day 10: Just one witness

Detective Oddo was present at Craig Burdine's autopsy
Courtney Astolfi
Jul 2, 2014


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.



I'm confused Courtney! In one paragraph you say "few, if any" witnesses have been called that had first hand knowledge. I'm not sure what few, if any means. To me it means you don't know who has been called. Because what you are saying is some and none in the same sentence.


Keep in mind, the family is not in control of this proceeding, the state is. The family should have no input or involvement in this proceeding whatsoever, because they were not there to begin with. All their testimony is doing is tainting the grand jury.


I'm not sure why you think Dr. Baden should be called. You're saying people who weren't present are being called. Then you ask why yet another person who was not there be called to testify.

my oh my

It would be accurate to say the Register doesn't know for sure who has been called or not right????Because few weeks ago they reported EMS personnel were subpoenaed and also seen to be leaving courtroom after testtifying ..I agree that the family is shooting from the hip and definitely tainting the jury by some of their comments out of court...

Florence Nightingale

The last 9 paragraphs of this are the same tired old rehash that accompanies just about every article about these proceedings. Will a list of witnesses be included in some type of final report? If so, why not just wait? Then you can report on who actually testified and who didn't rather than this endless speculation!


They ignore the fact that it's against the code of ethics to subpeona a target that has informed them they would take the fifth if called before the grand jury. I have little doubt that every one of them told Donohue to forget about it. Neither DeWine nor Donohue are going to risk sanctions to please the family or SR.


Are you not stating that the AG's office cannot effectively investigate the case because law enforcement officers involved in the "struggle" in the jail can not be questioned?

How and who does investigate and question law enforcement officers alleged to have engaged in criminal actions? Also don't law enforcement officers or any government employee have a duty to cooperate with any investigation into their job performance?


This is the GRAND JURY who determine whether there is enough evidence to send it to trial. They DO NOT determine guilt or innocence.


No, and we've done this dance before. The AG's office may or may not have tried to question LE during the course of the investigation, or been told they stand by their previous written statements or depositions, no one knows. For all you and the SR knows, one of the individuals may have been deposed again and the deposition submitted to the GJ. If the Grand Jury can't find probable cause without a prosecutor engaging in unethical behavior, then there shouldn't be any indictments. How many Grand Juries do you know of that has hauled the targets in for questioning? It's rare for good reason. And what do you do if you have conflicting "expert" opinion? You set aside their opinions and bring in someone else who doesn't have a dog in the fight. The SR may harp about justice, but they only want a one-sided version of events presented to the Grand Jury. Any indictment should be based ONLY on evidence showing probable cause, not conjecture, supposition or guess work. And that is the problem for the family and SR. What evidence is there besides Dr. Baden's extreme conjecture? Maybe we'll get surprised and they'll turn up new evidence to support the family's claims, but I won't be surprised if we see a no-bill. And I won't be surprised to hear SR and others scream cover-up.


You didn't answer my question: Who investigates law enforcement officers or jail corrections officers alleged to have committed a crime and how can they effectively investigate law enforcement officer or jail corrections officers if they refuse to speak and public records such as video are missing?


Do you bother to read the answers? I have already said, numerous times, that there isn't anything stopping the investigators from investigating or asking questions. You don't know what has been done or not done. You don't know what statements or depositions have been given to the GJ. Or any one of them could have decided they have cooperated enough and they're done talking. Working in law enforcement does not strip them of constitutional protection! The SR and you seem more interested in making people "look" guilty than actually relying on evidence and due process to prosecute people. If you need to toss out ethics, due process, and Constitutional protections to get an indictment then you're advocating a kangaroo court and persecution, not justice.


Sash you are absolutely correct. The prosecutor only reads the statutes and if the jurors have questions about the statute he can explain it to them. He calls witnesses to the stand.....they can plead the 5 th and not testify if the choose to without penalty. The information is there for them to review. The prosecutor should not interject anything to the what is the issue, I don't know. This will be a no bill, if no civil rights attorneys have taken this case there is no case! If there was additional information to get an indictment, then a civil rights attorney would have picked up this case in a heartbeat! Just saying