Thursday, September 18, 2003

Teen's conviction in death reversed

Cousin, 8, beaten while he babysat

By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The conviction of a 15-year-old boy in the beating death of his 8-year-old cousin was reversed and Hamilton County authorities were working to determine Wednesday if the teen will be retried.

The First District Court of Appeals reversed the teen's conviction in the killing of Takeya Bryant, sayinga judge used information that was not admitted into evidence, which was used to find the boy competent to stand trial.

Hamilton County prosecutors are determining whether to ask the Ohio Supreme Court to overturn the appeal or go forward with a new trial.

"It's a technical issue, but it's important," said Hamilton County public defender Terry Weber, who represented the teen in the Aug. 15, 2001, beating death of Bryant.

Weber has always contended the boy, who was 14 at the time of his conviction, was incompetent to stand trial: "Not from the day he came in court to the day he was sent away."

The teen, who is not being identified because he was charged as a juvenile, was babysitting Takeya and her three siblings. He told police he'd tried to break up a fight between Takeya and her 11-year-old brother, but may have struck her several times in the process.

The 11-year-old was convicted in his sister's death. He spent the last two years in a group home in Indiana and will soon be placed with a foster family, Weber said. At the time of his conviction he was too young to be sentenced to Ohio's Department of Youth Services.

During the trial, Hamilton County Juvenile Judge Sylvia Hendon first found the teen incompetent to stand trial and sent him to get a mental health evaluation in Louisville. Psychiatrists there found him mentally competent.

Hendon convicted the teen of murder, sending him to the Department of Youth Services until age 21. He remains there now, Weber said, but most likely will return to the Hamilton County Juvenile Justice Center in the case of a retrial.


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