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Judge to decide if teen will be tried as adult in deadly Fremont shooting

By Allison Dunn • Jul 11, 2018 at 10:00 AM

FREMONT — A Sandusky County judge will determine later this month whether a 15-year-old boy accused of shooting and killing another teen will stay in the juvenile court system or be tried as an adult.

Sandusky County Juvenile Court Judge Brad Smith said Tuesday he will issue a written decision on the case involving Elijah Starks on July 23.

The Starks youth — who was 14 at the time of his arrest — is accused of fatally shooting Jaylan Brock, 14, on Sept. 17.

The boy is charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter, breaking and entering, burglary, grand theft of a firearm, felonious assault, and theft. He is also charged with obstruction of justice, and possession of criminal tools, which are misdemeanor offenses. Since January, the boy has additionally been charged with assaulting correctional staff and is now being held at a Department of Youth Services facility, Sandusky County probation officer Don Sartin said Tuesday.

The youth entered the Sandusky County courtroom Tuesday sporting an orange jumpsuit. With his wrists shackled together, he tapped his knuckles on the desk in front of him. The boy’s attorney Adam Stone requested his client be unshackled for the proceedings. Judge Smith agreed.

The prosecutor’s office requested the boy be tried as an adult, which is allowed under Ohio law as long as the juvenile was 14 at the time of the crime.

“He was gambling with other people’s lives,” Sandusky County Prosecutor Tim Braun previously said.

Mr. Sartin was the probation officer for the Starks youth beginning in July, 2017, when the boy was placed on probation for a school disorderly conduct charge. When the probation officer met the youth for the first time, Mr. Sartin said the boy was a “polite, young man.”

In August, 2017, he was arrested for running away from his custodian’s residence to his father’s home, the probation officer said.

Fremont police then responded to a home Sept. 17 in the 300 block of Jackson Street for the shooting incident involving the Brock youth. Officers gave first aid until emergency crews arrived, but the boy died while being transported to ProMedica Memorial Hospital, police said.

On Tuesday, John Fabian testified in a closed portion of the hearing regarding the youth’s social history and mental health.

Such factors may help determine if the youth is amenable to juvenile rehabilitation. The judge said he will base his decisions on Ohio law.

If the case is retained in the juvenile court, it is considered a mandatory “serious youthful offender” case, and may have a “blended sentence,” Judge Smith said.

“If it is such a blended sentence case, the adult sentence is imposed by the juvenile court but is suspended or stayed pending successful completion of the juvenile sentence,” the judge explained. “A juvenile is given a chance to go through the juvenile sentence and if successful, the adult sentence is never imposed. If they, using loose terminology, “screw up” while under those juvenile consequences, the court would still impose those adult consequences.”

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