Just a party-engineered Coverup for Sheriff's Office role in Murder at the Jail
The 1st PreTrial Hearing to Suspend Varnau, the Indy Coroner who actually commits to arriving at each and every death scene -- in contrast to the prior Sheriff-loved coroner who only came when the Sheriff summoned him -- was today (22nd April 2014).
Among the many revelations -- should anyone be common sense knowledgeable in assembling the pieces of testimony -- was the amazingly conflicted testimony of the sheriff's men. Three of them. The most senior -- and hence most responsible for the Sheriff's role -- was Johnnie Shadle, Chief Deputy who constantly was on the attack, regardless of what he was being asked. Clearly his intensity reveals the fact that his own son is a prime suspect in the recent (last November is recent in murder investigations by the Bureau of Crime Investigations) jail death, astutely and thoroughly analyzed by this coroner.
1) Combining the information stated by the Sheriff's (Wenninger) men at the trial we have the following:
-- A) it is so crucial to have a rapidly but thoroughly investigated DEATH scene, since it could be murder.
-- B) but maybe not so crucial to the Sheriff -- the poor helpless deputies were so intimidated by the Coroner's legal-opinion-seeking that the SHERIFF"S CHIEF INSTRUCTED THEIR DEPUTIES TO ABANDON ANY DEATH SCENE AS SOON AS THE CORONER ARRIVED. Their explanation was that there was a potential misunderstanding over their respective areas of investigation and they refused to be blamed if the lawyers later chose to agree with the coroner.
Among the comments heard from a young observer at the Pretrial, was the most knockout idea: it would seem quite natural and pleasantly solvable to simply provide each deputy with a sheet of paper on which they would ask the Coroner on her arrival, to designate the perimeter of HER DEATH SCENE RESPONSIBILITY. To which she would be able to sign for official purposes. Then the deputies would continue their REQUIRED UNDER LAW PROMPT INVESTIGATION OF THE CRIME SCENE EVIDENCE, INCLUDING PHOTOS, THE SECURING OF WEAPONS AND VALUABLES AS WELL AS DEMARCATING THE PERIMETER THAT THE PUBLIC MAY NOT ENTER WITH CRIME TAPE.
Since the Coroner has the responsibility UNDER THE LAW for ONLY determining the MANNER AND CAUSE OF DEATH, not the investigation of the suspects, and potential witnesses, weapons, etc., then the Coroner's area of interest is THE BODY.
The coroner has consistently extended her arms as her designated body-scene area of investigation.
Instead of following ORC (Ohio Revised Code, aka the Law's) requirements,
instead of honoring their CLAIMED OPINION of the crucial need for immediate collection of evidence,
instead of concern for the CITIZENS OF BROWN COUNTY'S NEED FOR SUCH SECURING OF WEAPONS, VALUABLES AND ESTABLISHING OF LIMITS TO CRIME SCENES.
Instead the Sheriff and his ADMINISTRATOR Chief SHADLE, have resorted to EXTORTION OF TAX FUNDS by REFUSING TO WORK WITH THE CORONER ON ANY DEATH SCENE, especially suicide scenes, and instead charging the county for summoning investigators from Columbus. Sheriff Wenninger and Chief Deputy Shadle chose to EXPEND DESPERATELY NEEDED PUBLIC BUDGET FUNDS TO DEMAND THAT BCI BE CALLED DOWN FROM COLUMBUS FOR EACH INVESTIGATION. What exactly are the allocated 'sheriff office' payrolls being useful for??
And even more ridiculous was one of the Sheriff Office's other schemes. They, after refusing to co-operate in returning to the scene after the Coroner had left, did demand that she, the coroner, SEND A LETTER TO THE PROSECUTOR (as their intermediary) to REQUIRE THE RETURN of the deputies. Otherwise they wouldn't show up. Asinine.
But we should recall that -- 3 years ago, when budgets were a bit more generous but dwindling -- this is the same sheriff's office that extorted limited budget funds from the public coffers (while EVERY OTHER COUNTY OFFICE REDUCED THEIR FUNDING) by refusing to keep jail inmates at the jail and instead CHARGING THE COUNTY FOR WAREHOUSING INMATES AT NEIGHBORING BUTLER COUNTY'S JAIL. And the budget authorities acceded to the sheriff's threats because they had no viable choice. Wenninger and Shadle claimed that the Columbus rules would view the manpower shifts required by their choices to be risky and the BCSO did not wish to be frowned on any more in law enforcement.
That last remark recognized that the Sheriff did NOT HAVE THE REQUIRED CREDENTIALS WHEN HE FILED FOR OFFICE back in 2000.
If he had, then the Grand Jury reviewing the charges (from citizens in the county, including later Varnau's husband) would not have authorized a trial. Had the sheriff been able to provide the credential proofs to the grand jury as he would have had to provide them to the Elections Board (who failed as well), then the GRAND JURY WOULD HAVE NO-BILLED THE CASE. But the GRAND JURY DID NOT. so the case went to trial.
The Judge at the trial (crooked Ringland now rewarded with many advantageous opportunities in climbing the ranks of the judiciary, largely same party as the Sheriff) INSTRUCTED THE TRIAL JURY TO LIMIT THEIR ADJUDICATION TO WHETHER THE SHERIFF DID IT ON PURPOSE, since the law for falsification of election credentials (a felony) says 'knowingly'. So limited, the trial jury decided the Sheriff was just ignorant. Wonderful recommendation for a law enforcement official, but the reality was not so reported in the press. SHERIFF LEGAL were the headlines.
And the case went to appeal, each time denied on some claimed technicality, including some knowably false demands of violations of 'laches' -- a technicality that limits pursuing charges later than was available, which would in the 'Varnau' cases, the Coroner's husband now carrying the ball alone after he had challenged Wenninger at the ballot box himself, have required that Varnau's husband file his complaint before he was even in BC. An obvious 'mistake' that couldn't be made by all the justices on the supreme court by accident with a million to one odds.
2) If it wasn't so criminal of the lawyers, it would have been hilariously aggravating. This bunch of fool lawyers was clearly AMBULANCE/HEARSE CHASER QUALITY. PREYING ON THE GRIEVING.
Lawyers are expected to KNOW THE LAWs, especially the FOUNDATION OF THEIR CASE. Yet these criminals were making claims against the coroner that had nothing to do with the coroner's LAW REQUIRED DUTIES. They wanted the medical officer to do the LAW ENFORCEMENT DUTIES and ignored the real jerks who're not innocent of failing to do their duties. Security, providing safety were made into gossipy (puddles of blood, skull pieces, personal shock, guns and butcher knives, missing items) detail of scene hazard.
They made false claims about what the Coroner had said about the jail murders, claiming that she'd accused the staff, which is not what this law-careful coroner did. It was established that IT WAS THE NEWSPAPER THAT CONCLUDED THAT THE STAFF HAD DONE IT AS IF THE CORONER HAD SAID IT... and that newspaper RETRACTED THEIR INCORRECT REPORTING...... yet the Judge went ahead indicating that he expected the false claims to be normal???? but what about demanding the perpetrator retract it themselves, or be facing something comparable to perjury..? As filers of an 'oath-bound' affidavit, surely that's perjury if it's not retracted as error, publicly on the record.
3) The last of the county's officials to consider is the current Prosecutor, Jessica Little, WHO HAD HER OWN LAWYER TO DEFEND HER RIGHTS. YET THE PERPETRATORS OF THIS RUSHED CASE DIDN'T ALLOW THE CORONER TIME TO ACQUIRE HER OWN LAWYER. Her family lawyer was not available for the RUSHED HEARING..
As for Little's claims that her fiduciary and statutatory responsibilities prevented her from doing any testifying on HER ROLE IN STIRRING UP THE ANIMOSITY AND AIDING THE SHERIFF IN THE STUPID IDEAS LIKE LETTER WRITING TO FAX (clearly after leaving the death scene) TO LITTLE FOR ADMINISTRATION OF INVESTIGATIONS... that elected official showed an amazing stupidity in deciding that a letter from the Attorney General sent to the Coroner (in answer to a question) that CCd Prosecutor Little did not rank as attorney-client covered in her conflicted role as defender of both Sheriff and Coroner, SO THE FOOL PROSECUTOR CIRCULATED THE LETTER TO THE NEWSPAPER (the Brown County Press) AND THE SHERIFFS OFFICE. BIG HEADLINES. Yet she showed no remorse.
On top of that obvious violation, there was an anonymous letter sent that ended up in the Varnau's custody, that said that Little had urged one grieving family to go to Little's chosen lawyer friend to file suit against the Coroner. Little's response on being shown the letter (when it arrived, not in court) was 'coward'.
So, the timing of the trial becomes even more suspect, in that BCI is expected to present their assessment very soon, on the jail house murder. Murder? Yep, the sprinkler head that the jail staff claims was used for attaching the bedsheet (tied around the kid's neck) is engineered to NOT HOLD MORE THAN 40 POUNDS before breaking away. Anti-suicide safety. Piece two, the marks on the kid's neck were not consistent with a sheet hanging, where the marks would have had a gap where the sheet was stretched upward, not against the neck parallel to the rest of the mark. Strangulations have no such gap. Piece three, the mark itself was not of a bunched sheet, but of a straight edge strap of uniform width. The careful coroner has the photos to back up her death certificate signature and she's not backing down. So the Sheriff, after destroying evidence (though later denying it), now says that BCI's investigation should rule, and that ruling could seriously damage the remaining credibility of the BCSO as well as implicate Shadle's son. Meanwhile the Sheriff and Shadle have not suspended any of the jail staff while the investigation goes on, trying to keep up the appearance of 'nothing' wrong here. Unlike what would have happened in any decent law enforcement department. Wouldn't any citizen be less certain of calling on the sheriff's men while knowing that one of them could be a murderer? Hence the obvious attack motive against the independent coroner who goes to EVERY death scene.
She's one strong, caring lady who served in a medical capacity in the military with appropriately accumulated responsibilities. She set out to do some public service by running for medical officer in her adopted community when the previous coroner declined to run again and no one stepped up to the plate, at all. Her offices (ObGyn) were in the process of being moved out of their hospital location when the hospital was sold and the new hospital owner decided that cancer patients brought in more money for that space, so it looked like her new local practice would be slow enough for her to do public service.... but she's not an insider in the local politics and the 'two party' choices are clearly wanting to stamp out any disgraces in their skeleton closets. The Ohio Legislators took time out of their fiduciary responsibilities and dealt the third parties in Ohio a serious blow to their ability to get on the ballot at all. The Libertarians had managed to get on this year's ballot by beating the law's deadline and challenging the law in court.
The no-choice two-headed duopoly (wherein the officials won't follow the letter of the law when it benefits regular citizens, and hide behind false immunity claims when their officials are found to do wrong) persists in Ohio.