Judge wants bullet case investigator
Alleged switch saw murder charge dismissed. Jurists will discuss proposal.
By Ed Meyer
Beacon Journal staff writer
Published on Thursday, May 08, 2008
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Patricia A. Cosgrove has decided to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of compromised ballistic evidence that led to last month's dismissal of an aggravated murder case against a Mahoning County man.
Cosgrove said Wednesday that she wants the case investigated by someone with no Summit or Mahoning County ties and that her proposal will be discussed at the monthly judges meeting next week.
Last month, Cosgrove dismissed all charges in the aggravated murder case against Arian S. O'Connor, 30, of Youngstown.
O'Connor was charged in October with the 2002 execution-style slaying of Javan Rogers, 24, of Akron, after Youngstown police allegedly switched shell casings from that crime scene and
the scene of an unrelated drive-by shooting involving O'Connor less than two weeks later.
That assertion was made April 7 by Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Gregory Peacock, who told Cosgrove a trial ''would not be in the interest of justice for either the defendant or the victim's family.''
Cosgrove granted Peacock's request, calling the compromised evidence ''a situation that strikes at the very heart of our democracy and our justice system.''
Members of Rogers' family were in court for the dismissal, and Cosgrove promised them an investigation to determine whether the compromised evidence was accidental or deliberate.
Rogers' mother, Vickie, told a reporter that she had ''waited five years to get some justice'' and that she felt as though ''the system failed me.''
Several days later, Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams said the internal affairs unit of the police department was investigating. A state official in Columbus said Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation would conduct its own investigation.
Williams did not return telephone messages Wednesday seeking comment on the results of the Youngstown police investigation, although he said earlier there was nothing to indicate ''anything untoward or sinister.''
If there were switched shell casings, it was simply a mistake, Youngstown Police Chief Jimmy F. Hughes said.
''I've been in law enforcement for 30 years. Mistakes happen,'' Hughes said.
O'Connor's lawyer, Jonathan T. Sinn of Akron, said O'Connor was released April 28.
Sinn said O'Connor remains on supervised federal parole in a Youngstown drive-by shooting on Sept. 8, 2002.
No one was injured in that incident.
Officers at the scene recovered one 9 mm brass shell casing in the street and placed it in an evidence locker, according to police records.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or email@example.com