DeWine one poor prosecutor

Matt Westerhold
Jun 14, 2014

Jess Burdine and his family have waited nearly seven years.

Brenda Naus has waited for 15 years.

Another cold case

Christina Fegley, five years. 

Rape victim not consenting

The family of Bryan Jones has waited four years. 

Sleeping man killed

Richard Cordle, 25 years, which is more than half his life. 

Unsolved Bellevue hatchet murder

More than 1,600 people have signed a petition asking Gov. John Kasich to remove Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt and sheriff Kyle Overmyer from office, using a state law that gives the governor that power.

More than 20,000 people have signed on as followers of the Justice for Jake & Ella Facebook page, which has morphed into a movement uniting the families against what they contend is corruption in Sandusky County.


Craig Burdine died at the Sandusky County jail after being brought there severely injured and being dragged inside by Fremont police officers and jail guards. Burdine was barely conscious, or already unconscious, when he was taken inside.

He was still handcuffed and shackled when he allegedly scuffled with the officers, who then used a Taser repeatedly to subdue him. He died minutes after being dragged inside.

There is no surveillance video from the police cruisers and the jail that shows Burdine being combative, as the guards and officers contended. In every frame of video, Burdine appears non-responsive.

One of the jail guards, in a subsequent deposition, said Burdine was showing “passive restraint” when they wrestled with him and used the Taser repeatedly to subdue him.

That might be the most accurate official statement of all from the sheriff's office and the Fremont police: Craig Burdine was Tasered and died because he was being passive.

There was no criminal investigation after Craig Burdine died, even though the circumstances of his death clearly required one be conducted, including a deadly force review.

There was no criminal investigation, even though the Fremont police and the Sandusky County sheriff's office assured the family they would conduct a thorough investigation.

Detective Sean O'Connell later acknowledged — in 2010 — he did not conduct that full investigation as promised, but rather was simply reviewing the involvement of Fremont police officers and was not concerned with how Burdine died.

He reversed himself again, however, after DeWine agreed to conduct a criminal investigation in August, saying he already conducted a full investigation in the weeks after Craig Burdine died.

But he didn't.


It doesn't matter what O'Connell said in 2007 about a criminal investigation, or what he said in 2010 reversing himself, or what he said in 2013, reversing himself again about whether there was a criminal investigation.

O'Connell, the Fremont police and the Sandusky County sheriff's office never conducted a criminal investigation after Craig Burdine died at the Sandusky County Jail on Aug. 11, 2007.

The detective and Sheriff Overmyer have never explained that, or the conflicting information that's been provided, which the Burdine family says was designed to cover up what really happened.

O'Connell went through the motions, reviewing matching written statements prepared by the jail guards and the police officers immediately after Burdine died about their recollections of what had occurred.

Those statements stand as a primary part of the official story: Craig Burdine was being combative, they all wrote.

Lucas County deputy coroner Cynthia Beisser's autopsy report, based in large part on the inaccurate information O'Connell and others provided her, is the other part of the official story: Craig Burdine's death was self-inflicted due to drug and alcohol intoxification and a condition called excited delirium.

But a manufacturer's warning regarding the use of Tasers specifically cautions against using the weapon on handcuffed subjects suffering from excited delirium. To do so, according to the Taser manufacturer, can result in instant death.

That's a detail Beisser and O'Connell did not address in filing reports that appear to ignore the real circumstances of what occurred.

And DeWine, his investigators, and his lead prosecutor, appear to be doing the same thing, ignoring specific information in order to reach a pre-ordained conclusion.

They telegraphed that intention from the first meeting with the Burdine family after agreeing to conduct a criminal investigation, telling them the statute of limitations might make it difficult to secure criminal indictments.

It's a statement that just isn't true.

DeWine appears to be showing the same kind of cover-up behavior — ignoring eyewitness and scientific evidence — throughout his investigation and the ongoing grand jury hearings in Sandusky County.

The stilted nature of the hearings — seven days of testimony over six weeks — bears witness to that, especially given that few, if any, of the officers and guards, and other eyewitnesses and key witnesses have been called to testify.

It's often said a prosecutor can use a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, if he wants.

In this case, DeWine appears to be using this grand jury to just make it all go away.


Get live coverage at when the grand jury returns Monday.

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TKeegan73's picture

I posted a comment up about my dealings with the State and how the "buck gets passed" when a citizen brings to attention a very serious issue that could be corrected by several different means but instead one refers you to another then that one refers you somewhere else, etc..... So as soon as I clicked "save" to post it it redirects me to another webpage saying my comment was blocked because it was considered "Spam"??? Never had this happen before.....guess I better not ever type the State Attorney General's name again or even mention any of the State Rep's....quite odd

The New World Czar

Westerhold one biased editor. Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.


Since Matt likes re-hashing stories from years ago...

When is Matt finally going to explain to us the circumstances of his driver's license being suspended, and why he chose to knowingly drive on a suspended license?

Or how about, why he did not pay his bill at Dermatology Partners?


Come on now, with all do respect Sandman, Mr. Westerhold is not a public servant. To error is to be human. Who really cares about if he paid a bill or not (besides the business)?

If Dewine isn't doing his job the best to its ability, then that's what we, the public, need to know. As long as it's a fair, unbiased story. That's all we want.


When DeWine decided to use his AG credentials to represent the Catholic Church as the state violated the separation of church and state of the Constitution. For this alone DeWine should be dismissed or at least investigated by DOJ for this travesty of justice. Why should the people of Ohio pay for the Catholic Church's legal objections to a federal law?

This demonstrates he is biased in upholding the law of the land and unfit as an attorney. The people elected a double dipper as their AG since he lost his congress seat. But you get what you elected. Why hasn't anyone brought this tidbit up? I did and all I revived was a BS email from his office.

Matt Westerhold

You're missing the point, sandman, with your over-the-top cheap-shot. The Burdine family has been waiting seven years, so the AG's office decides to present evidence in a stilted fashion in front of a grand jury once a week over seven weeks without calling eyewitnesses. These cases involve dead people, not a traffic citation. You don't seem to have any sense of priority. 


Implying that Dewine is somehow at fault for cases that were not dealt with swiftly, before he was even AG, is a cheap shot too.

I did not vote for Dewine, but you seem to forget that at least he took some form of action on some of these cases. You and the SR are making him the fall man for lack of action from past Attorney General's as far back as Anthony Celebrezze.


Matt and I are as opposite politically as one can possibly be, but I agree with him 100% about DeWine.

The idea that DeWine did these trials because HE thought it necessary is laughable. DeWine is gutless, he won't do anything unless it benefits his ego or advances his political position. I believe he took these cases because by not doing so would made him look bad, once again an ego thing he fails to hide from the public.

I have ZERO respect for him, I consider him a worthless scab to the very idea of a free society, making a mockery of the judicial system.

I voted for him every time he was on the ballot but NEVER AGAIN! I'd vote for the devil himself before voting for this manipulative politician who in my view has no honor.

Peninsula Pundit

DeWine is a career politician who has been feeding at the public trough for years in different capacities but with always the same pitiful lackluster mediocrity. Now he's old enough to retire, he'll enjoy being put out to pasture by the voters and live comfortably for the rest of his mediocre years still feeding from the public trough of the state employees retirement system and whatever trusts his family name renders.


I voted for him not even once when he was on the ballot and I knew better than you because I am better than you consevative scab! I'd vote for the devil himself before voting for this manipulative politician or any repuglicon who in my view have no honor.


But you voted for him...duh

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Sandman. The news articles clearly state DeWine reviewed information about the other families; the articles do not state he is at fault. 

DeWine was responsible for the finding there is no criminal wrongdoing when jail guards sexually exploit a mentally ill inmate.

DeWine also has not followed up after the findings of his Limberios investigation were ignored by Sandusky County coroner John Wukie. Wukie thumbed his nose at DeWine, and at the Limberios family, continuing a pattern of substandard service from the law enforcement community on that case, and the others cited.

DeWine did say he would review the information from the other families further and review the Ohio Revised Code to determine what, if any, action from the attorney general's office might be warranted, or possible. He has not followed up on that statement.

If action from the office was warranted then — all the way back to Celebrezze — it might be warranted now.  

Ralph J.



Matt: YOU complain about someone taking an "over-the-top cheap shot"? YOU? After you time and time again publish the same old not-even-rehashed versions of the same stories? You get the locals all riled up with your Westerhold-Baptist-Church tactics, then you complain because someone observes that you got sued for not paying a medical bill or that you got a traffic ticket for driving without a valid license.

What if it was something serious? Something like not paying your mortgage and having your house foreclosed and bought back by the bank. Would that be newsworthy?

What if it were something involving honor? Something like trying to cut your child support when your kid is older and needs the support the most?

It really hurts to see your dirty laundry spread before the public, doesn't it? Can you imagine how good public officials like Mike DeWine, Tom Stierwalt, Mark Mulligan, and Dane Howard must feel when they spend a career trying their level best to do a good job, and see you call them corrupt and worse.

It really hurts. Really, really hurts. It's not fair. But that's the way you roll, isn't it?


Isn't Dan McGookey the same attorney that represented the Limberios family? Hmm...


Wow! That blows the door wide open!
Was Matt using the SR to do personal favors for his attorney? No wonder we get such one-sided reporting on that case.

Matt was all about making sure the public knew about OHP Trooper Vitte having a conflict of interest with his former attorney, Dean Henry.

Matt Westerhold

Really, Blue.Streaker, there's a grand jury ongoing in a seven-year-old case that was ignored by local officials. Nobody is forcing you to read these stories in the Register, or my personal opinion column. If you don't want to read the articles, don't read them. These families have the right to question public officials, and I have that right, whether or not you like it. Ignoring the information being provided and deflecting from it with inaccurate statements about public records and over-the-top personal attacks involving children that have nothing to do with that information is a cheap shot. It's creepy. 


Matt, hang in there. This bunch of prosecutors, lawyers, and police officers who are posting here are back to their usual MO of tearing private citizens and their children apart for daring to question their long standing rackets from which they profit. If they stay true to form, they'll next try to indict you for daring to complain about them.

It's brilliant actually. They took lessons from organized crime and privatized the criminal justice system so that it's impossible to have their members investigated and prosecuted no matter what they do to people. They then undertake a public disinformation and smear campaign with economic attacks on livelihood or businesses against anyone who questions them. If that doesn't shut people up, they find a way to charge them.

All of the cases you reference in Sandusky County (and there are many others in Erie and Ottawa Counties) reveal the problem that Ohio lacks a state wide Public Integrity criminal investigation agency with which citizens could file complaints publicly that required investigation. It's a structural problem in this state that ends up enabling bad government and corruption in public office.

The Burdine case frightens them, but not because they think for one minute that DeWine will indict any of their gang's members. It's the fact that the SR publicity surrounding this case exposes the lack of professionalism and structural defects in the state that in turn strongly suggests obstruction of justice and lack of redress for citizens in Ohio.

Ultimately, your and others' exhaustive documentation of the undermining of process and the retaliation/harassment endured (including the comments herein) from them will deliver their worst nightmare: A federal public corruption investigation out of DC.

Senator Portman will be in Sandusky County on 6-20 and concerned citizens should consider asking for his assistance with obtaining a federal investigation.


Completely out of bounds sandman. I have been critical of SR's reporting on this case and others, but personal attacks against the reporters or editor because you disagree with their views or opinions are unacceptable. Slinging mud undermines your position, not theirs.


Not a personal attack. Court records are public record.

sandtown born a...

Who cares if said reporter has traffic violations and a unpaid medical bill, I mean come what do you want done about that ? Maybe lock his but up I mean really,
Dewine does nothing but damage control with the dog and pony shows he puts on. Shock is the emotion everyone would have if anything ever comes from one of his so called "investigations" using that term loosely.


""Dewine does nothing but damage control with the dog and pony shows he puts on.""


Dr. Information

@sandtown born.......Um, pay your damn medical bills like a responsible adult.......maybe......just maybe?


Fact-checking sandman: (Looks like he did his homework.)



Julie R.

So much for pi*s poor DeWine who was going to put a stop to corruption.


DeWine is nothing more than an overpaid bill collector for the State, Hospitals and other government connected organizations.

I know from experience that DeWine doesn't wait 15, 20, 25 years to send court notices if you owe his buddies a single penny! I was attacked, had to sue the offenders insurance and DeWine came after me even though the suit was still pending against the offenders, the amount was less than $1000, and he didn't care that I had medical bills in the 10's of thousands of dollars until the insurances paid them, DeWine wanted his money NOW.

DeWine's an egotistical and arrogant politician and nothing more. None of this report surprises me, he's no attorney general but more of a thug like the crooked cops in the 20's who ran the booze collections in Chicago.


...and yet Ohioans continue to elect him to various offices...

.... and we continue to realize that Sandusky is so perfect the SR has to go out of county to 'stir' with the 'big stick'...


Mike Dewine has only been an AG for three years. How many cases comes to his office daily? What's the "normal" amount of time for cases/complaints to be resolved?

I can understand the frustration of those who have been waiting for their cases to be handled, but there is only so many hours in a day, with new cases adding on the workload by the hours it seems.

Pardon me if this is a simple answer, but I haven't got a clue how an attorney general's office is handled.


Why in the world do you include cold cases 15-25 years old? And he was Still handcuffed when he was tasered? Where does that come from? All the statements said he was uncuffed when they took him into the shower?

Stop It

Isn't it time to change your handle again, ContraryAnn?