Attorney: Case ‘politically motivated’

A Port Clinton defense attorney has accused the Ottawa County prosecutor’s office of fast-tracking an attempted burglary case to favor the victim, state Rep. Chris Redfern, D-Catawba.
Alex Green
Dec 18, 2013
The suspect — Alexander Reitzel, 19, of Port Clinton — was indicted Thursday on two counts of attempted burglary. The indictment came five days after he allegedly tried to break into Redfern’s $845,000 home in Catawba Island Township. The home is currently up for sale.

Reitzel’s attorney, Tom DeBacco, said the indictment came much too quickly.

“(Reitzel) gets indicted within five days for two felonies of the third degree,” DeBacco said. “It’s wrong, it’s politically motivated”

DeBacco said he believes Reitzel is innocent and is being treated unfairly because of Redfern’s political stature.

“In no way did he try to break into Chris Redfern’s house,” DeBacco said. “There was a ‘For sale’ sign in the front yard. You figure it out”

Redfern said he was in Pennsylvania when he randomly decided to watch the video surveillance that monitors the interior and exterior of his Catawba home. The video is accessible remotely.

“The way some people use their phone to look at Facebook or Twitter, I’m one of those crazy people who watches my video surveillance cameras” Redfern said.

He said he watched the surveillance footage for about an hour, during which time Reitzel was allegedly on his property.   

Ottawa County prosecutor Mark Mulligan’s office provided copies of the video footage to the Register.

The video, about 45 minutes long, shows a man in a red-and-black jacket on the property at various points, at times fiddling with the knobs to doors at the back porch.

At one point, another man is seen with the suspect.

Reitzel later told Catawba Island police he saw a “For sale” sign in the yard, and he was peering through the windows and back door to look at the home’s interior, according to police.

Redfern and Mulligan denied any allegations of collusion; they both said the video footage provided sufficient evidence for an indictment.

“To suggest that in some way I manipulated the system — I’m looking for Mr. DeBacco to apologize,” Redfern said.

Mulligan said grand jury indictments are handed down every two to four weeks.

“(The accusation) is unsubstantiated” Mulligan said, adding the indictment was justified based on evidence he gathered with help from assistant prosecutor Andrew Bigler and his staff.

“(Reitzel) was caught in the act,” Mulligan said. “He was observed by the homeowner over the course of an hour, watching in real time”

Reitzel was released from the Ottawa County jail Monday on $30,000 bond.

Comments

White Owl

It's politically motivated.

mikeylikesit

you better believe it!

JudgeMeNot

“The video doesn’t lie.”

Louise

That is correct. The video shows a young man in broad daylight turning a door knob.

Licorice Schtick

Just by being there, he's trespassing. And why does one fiddle with door knobs, if not to get in? You'd feel differently if it were YOUR house. Or are you personally acquainted with the accused?

Factitious

In suburban break-ins, high among the likely suspects are the neighborhood "kids," i.e. teen-age minors or young adults still living with parents. That goes double if any of their buddies are visiting. What may start as curiosity and then impulsivity ends in crime. This looks like a classic case.

Louise

Trespassing-yes. Two third degree felonies-no!

areyt55

Jesus`s postlng is terrific... last wednesday I bought a top of the range BMW M3 since getting a check for $6747 this-past/five weeks and-also, $10k lass month. with-out a doubt this is the nicest-work I've ever had. I began this 5 months ago and right away started making a nice over $71, p/h. view website http://goo.gl/f6e95V

sandtown born a...

For sure it is 5 days really

White Owl

Also, could the media please start using a more recent photo of Chris and explain how as a life long politician he is able to afford the home?

Peninsula Pundit

I wonder this same thing about all public officials and the lavish homes they have, from the cop on down.
+1

Kingsin

Well, politically motivated but I'm not sure any laws had actually been broken- maybe trespass but not B&E. What really hurts is the fact that not too many 19 yr olds have $845,000, so you know he's up to no good, but with a for sale sign in the yard it makes it a bit murky in my opinion. A good attorney should be able to get this kid off (not that he should however). Kind of interested in seeing how this turns out. Also, nothing like watching a video for 45 minutes without calling the cops, so you know he was hoping the kid would pop a window and really hang himself.

mikeylikesit

im not even sure about trespassing. if a home has a for sale sign I would expect people to stop and look. I know that it is still private property even if it's for sale, but unless there's more to the video that we didn't see I don't think they have a case. he may have been up to no good. that's the feeling I get too, but I think they are just trying to railroad this guy. politics as usual..

Licorice Schtick

That makes no sense. You say, "He may have been up to no good." What no good? Getting in the house, right? That's crime he was charged with. How is that railroading? Was he charge with B&E and you think it should be ATTEMPTED B&E? He should cop a plea and save the taxpayers some money. But it looks like he hopes to buy is way out of it instead.

And the defense that this 19-year-old is in the market for a $800K home is just silly.

The man's attorney is out of line and owes Redfern an apology.

mikeylikesit

it would make sense if you pulled your head out of your a$$.

White Owl

Here's some additional facts that support the kid's story. He lives in the neighborhood. He had eaten with his family at the Catawba Island Club (also in the neighborhood) He took a walk afterward, noticed the house for sale, and told his parents about it. The Auditor's site reports that Cynthia Reitzel owns a bunch of property on Catawba Island as Trustee in the area and can probably buy the house and Redfern too!

That's probably the motive for Redfern. He's likely envious of the family and is projecting his own behavior onto this kid for some perceived slight in Catawba Island social circles. He assumed the kid was acting how he would have acted at his age, so he abuses his political power to scandalize the kid and his family.

Licorice Schtick

"He told his parents about it." Wow, that's some seriously inside information.

And the comment about Redfern's motives? For what? Calling the cops? What would you do?

White Owl

Redfern didn't call the local cops. He waited and called top officials.

What would I do? I would call my local police department after a couple of minutes of watching video and ask them to check out my home. I would let officers on the scene make the determination of whether the young man should be charged.

Also, I would likely ask the officers to put the young man on the phone and have him explain his behavior to me. Once I learned it was a neighbor's son, I would have wished him and his family Merry Christmas.

Louise

I read in one report that he wanted his parents to buy it. But yeah- watching for 45 min and there was clearly no break and enter seems almost like a set up.

Licorice Schtick

He can tell it to the judge.

meowmix

What difference does it make if he was indicted today or next week really? I'd say this is more of an attempt by the kid's attorney to divert attention from the actual crime. How much heck would you raise with the county prosecutor if it was YOUR HOUSE and he elected to not even charge the kid? Face it, the kid was up to no good. He'll get it pled down to a lesser charge and hopefully will learn a good lesson from it!

Louise

The difference was he was indicted BEFORE being arrested on a Friday afternoon which made him have to wait in jail until Monday for a judge.

White Owl

Good point! Also, by indicting the kid instead of pressing misdemeanor charges in Municipal Court, Redfern and Mulligan can claim a Grand Jury found probable cause so when the kid is acquitted it's tough to sue for malicious prosecution.

He was also entitled to be summoned to court on this case instead of arrested on a Friday and that coupled with the ridiculous bond reeks of prosecutorial misconduct and abuse of power.

Louise

Oh geez- this case is amazingly ridiculous! I just never knew a person could be indicted before even having a clue about being arrested. How could that happen if he was entitled to a court summons first?

JudgeMeNot

^^clueless^^

White Owl

If it was my or your house the prosecutor wouldn't indict the kid...that's the point. He would tell you or me that we have to contact the police department, have them investigate and then maybe the police would file a misdemeanor trespassing charge in municipal court.

It's the fact that a very low level crime (if it is a crime) got priority before the grand jury and trumped up to a felony because of the political power (and close friendship to the prosecutor) of the alleged victim.

Licorice Schtick

I don't know where you're from, but on our planet, My Friend, if you get caught trying to get into some else' empty house, you go away in cuffs and get charged. You working for the lawyer?

This is desperation on the part of the defense. Going to the court of public opinion can backfire. In this case, it should.

Louise

Charged with what? If it had been your house do you think this would have happened?
But I guess someone made that point already.

White Owl

Knocking on doors and trying the door handle on a house that is For Sale does not get one arrested. If that were the case, door to door evangelists and kids selling stuff would all face trespassing charges and arrest.

Mr. Redfern should have called his township police to check it out. They would make the call on whether the kid should be arrested. He did not. My guess is the local police know the kid and the family and would have told Redfern this is at best a case of trespassing.
So, Redfern called his personal friend the Sheriff.

Instead of the local police investigating and filing misdemeanor trespassing charges in Municipal Court, the prosecutor (also a close friend) takes the case from the Sheriff. He conducts the investigation, something prosecutors are not allowed to do.

Prosecutor Mulligan then rushes to secretly indict the kid on a Thursday on not one but two third degree felonies for a continuing course of conduct. Secret indictments are used for high risk dangerous alleged criminals who pose a threat to the community or a high risk of flight. This kid was neither a violent. dangerous person nor did he pose any risk of flight.

Also, there is a presumption of summons not arrest on an indictment for non violent crimes because it costs a lot of money to arrest and jail people. To top it all off they arrest the kid on a Friday so he doesn't get a bond hearing and he sits over the weekend.

In my opinion, the defense is rightfully pointing out abuse of power and misuse of public resources by Redfern and Mulligan.

4-wheeler al

was there signs 0n lot stating about permission too look at the house for sale.no trespassing signs or contact person on house for sale.

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