After 1 full day of trial, both sides came into the 2nd day a bit worn down. But the Defense still seemed much better prepared, particularly later on when the Prosecution couldn't find crucial evidence that they could then only merely claim did exist.
In that crucial claiming attempt, the prosecuting attorney (Bradley Braun) demanded that the court disbelieve the coroner (who said she had not ever rejected the Sheriff's men's help, particularly not from Chief Schadle) and the court should believe instead the conflicting (lying? for some reason, or simply wrongheaded interpretation) claim of the Chief Deputy (John Schadle) that she had rejected his offer in the initial negotiations in the 2hour effort at smooth changing of the guard time (when the old coroner retired in December 2012).
That negotiation was recorded and is accessible on the Varnau website for public assessing of public records and Varnau had just reviewed that recording the night before in anticipation of likely plaintiff-claims (since Schadle's testimony triggered that expectation on trialday 1) and she said she had found no mis-interpretable content. That lady does her homework.
The court tolerated a nearly half hour delay while the prosecution TEAM of Braun, Hawkins and an assistant went into a private area to search the CD for something to make their claim seem valid. The judge's patience eventually declined to wait any further, after even asking if they hadn't at least even captured it in transcribed form.
Totally disgraced as competent if not as truthful, but that didn't deter the bombastic Braun or induce him to tone down any bit of his unsupported claiming, not even after seeing how many, not just that one 'missing' evidence piece, of their inflammatory claims were explained away in the reality of law enforcement and its law-based division of responsibility in normal small county law enforcement.
For example, the inciting-horror scene of one next of kin finding a piece of their loved-one's skull on the mantle and taking it to the coroner and asking what to do with it in a flurry of outraged expectations, we saw those crowd-inciting claims melt away in the testimony on the reality of the events.
When the event of the skull-mutilated body discovery was testified to, it turned out that the body was found in a darkened room and the deputy chose to advise the coroner to NOT TURN ON THE LIGHT SWITCH AS IT MIGHT BE BOOBY TRAPPED, based on his opinion of the likelihood that such a planned suicide as he was considering this scene to be was sometimes set up to destroy those who discovered the body by booby trapping some feature that would need attention from those coming on the scene. And the darkened room seemed suspicious to him. And she complied as a good team player does. Hence the investigation proceeded BY FLASHLIGHT since there was no one to relieve that fear in some cautious forensic-science way.
Consequently the victim's head, the top of which was in smithereens, with blood, brain tissue, skin and bone fragment sections plastered on the ceiling, the curtains, everywhere was not so easily reassembled to determine 'missing' piece identities. The coroner gathered as much as was possible under the flashlight circumstances and sent the puzzle pieces with the body in the EMT's body bag to the hospital morgue, meticulously as possible under time pressure, but obviously not ceiling stuff, nor curtain stuff. The relative arrived much later with the skull fragment at a point after the body had been reduced to ash in a ceremonial cremation, leaving not much to be done with the kin's horror but to suggest a contemporary-style private burial for the skull-piece with a symbolic life-surviving tree planting to mark the decedent's passage.
Once the reality of the blood splashed, flash-light search disaster was before the courtroom's eyes, instead of conceding that one of the Plaintiff's grievances was answered decently, the desperate ploy used by Braun was to scowl and demand that the Coroner should have sent the piece to the funeral director to be cremated as well, IGNORING THE REALITY OF THE COST TO THE KIN OF A SECOND FIRING OF THE FULL SIZE KILN. Morons running the prosecution were in evidence. Yet the courtroom failed to show any cognition of stupidity and disgust at that ploy, possibly since the horror of the scene and the reality of flashlights scanning for fragments of brain tissue and skin and bone had most in shock.
Similarly, the pumped up outrage of 'evidence destruction' over the coroner's cleaning the face of the decedent in a possibly (remotely) suspicious death, was just the Coroner making the deceased presentable for the decedent's parents after the deceased was in the hospital morgue, and after the initial photos and evidence gathering was done... so that the parents would see a more recognizable son.
Other evidence-loss claims similarly melted in the open description of the events, such as the outrageously stupid idea that the coroner was supposed to have taken fingerprints off a gun and gunpowder residues off the body as part of her cause, manner and mode of death investigation when plainly such evidence responsibilities were the Sheriff's burden as finding WHO-DONE-IT, not the medical cause, manner nor mode.
Yet Braun demanded repeatedly such phrases that described crucial evidence-destruction, families deprived of consolation, etc be kept in the court's ears as the testimony's content, as if the discovery of what was IN THE LAW'S DEFINITION OF SHERIFF'S RESPONSIBILITIES had never emerged into view. An obvious stonewalling of truth, no truth-seeking nor fact-finding reverence, by Braun and the prosecution group, ever.
Not even after the Coroner from Highland County testified that such sorts of evidence were not part of a Coroner's professional training nor was any law-mandated requirement. The insiders did say that when dealing with the big city operations where Coroner's had roomfuls of technicians that more extensive services were sometimes provided, but not in small counties.
As we've heard from other sources, the Coroner uses part of her salary to supply extra deputies, one a medical colleague from her office whom she shares obstetric time-challenges with and the other a law enforcement investigator otherwise retired. End of conversation on public care for responsibilities at the Coroner's Office.
By contrast, the Sheriff's Office has had a couple of budget battles in which they extorted extra funding from the County's limited resources in order to hire extra people at the jail (demanding that the county pay even more to house what the Chief Deputy considered to be inadequately monitored inmates at the Butler County jail) and in the most recent battle demanding, in court combat with the County Commissioners, that the County pay ever more of the Sheriff's legal expenses.
This jail expense extortion has been compounded by (subsequent to hiring more deputies, possibly even including Schadle's son) two 'suicides' at the jail. The last one, the Goldson case, was investigated by the current Coroner. The previous death (just 2 years before Goldson) was not even investigated by the prior coroner, whose recollection failed as to his involvement, which absence is not something on tape, unfortunately for improving his recollection.
Guess what has happened with the current investigation: the marks on the victim's neck were consistent with strangulation NOT HANGING, as the jail staff claim happened. AND Chief Schadle's role (with his son being among the four on duty at the time) was to remove evidence including the sprinkler head supposedly used for the deed (ignoring the manufacturer's claim that it was suicide-proof which is accomplished by making the sprinkler head break off at 40 pounds of stress), as well as erasing the hallway security film within the week, not preserving it (though after the row that arose over this, Schadle claimed he gave 'a copy' to BCI). That 'suicide/homicide' was just about as long ago as it would take a bunch of socio-pathic villains to trump up this inflated bunch of charges against the Coroner who refused to back down on her evidence of homicide, not suicide.
Considering that the Ohio Bureau of Crime Investigations has not yet issued its report on this homicide/suicide dispute, taking extreme caution in hurry-avoidance, the incidents surrounding the jail were off limits in the Coroner's case, and so this is supposed to be just held in abeyance. But it fits the pattern of why the anti-coroner-evidence in this county-uproar of supposed outrage, is dissolving under the glare of examination of the circumstances.
Ditto the bandied-about-in-the-press interviews full of shock-n-awe do dissolve, with claims made by the cocky prosecution spreading accusatory slander about the one case involving money. The incident where the deputy coroner had taken money from the decedent's wallet and given it away to someone other than the Sheriff, with the Braun suggesting malfeasance, at the very least, fizzled. It turned out that the deputy had put the money in the coroner's safe until next of kin could be determined and finally gave it to some party (with receipt) who showed powers of attorney documents and with no next of kin found nearby. To which Braun then tried to save his own face by changing his accusations and now exclaiming that the Coroner was 'acting as a probate judge', with that scolding, scowling about practicing law without a license, and thereby attempting to divert sensible recognition that he was concealing the function of the decedent's executor and those who have custody of what's owed to the decedent, as well as the probate judge's role in simply overseeing the recordkeeping presented to the judge by the executor. Total gaming the truth by Braun.
And then come the gun handling stories. The annoyance of the faulty claiming by Braun was evident in one astute observer's comparison of 'who was jeopardizing the public'. Consider their analysis:
"The one thing that really irks me is this. They blame Dr. Judi Varnau for not taking the gun at the Zachary Adamson case after Dep. Crawford removed it from her body-scene and her assistant called 911 to have the SO come pick it up and they wouldn't do so, where Zachary's roommate, the roommate's sister and both of the roommates' parents were present, with other guns in the house, and we're supposed to believe that it was Dr. Judi Varnau's big fault to give the gun to the roommate after the sheriff's deputy had taken it for his purposes.
Then on the other hand the Sheriff's Office responds to Blue Sky Park Road where Joshua Carter had shot himself with a gun, same as Zachary Adamson, only people were standing around outside the house. The Sheriff's deputies leave the gun on the floor, the door open, and put yellow "CRIME SCENE" tape up around the house, indicating it is a crime scene, and then the sheriff's deputies completely leave the scene unattended, the life squad leaves, and the coroner hasn't even arrived on the scene.
Which instance are we supposed to believe is more dangerous to the public? Where the coroner doesn't take the gun with her who has no place to store a firearm or any other evidence from a scene, or the SO abandoning the gun when he not only has a place to store guns and evidence, but leaves a gun completely accessible to anyone who wanted to come in and pick it up and use it on someone else?"
Every time we tallied it, the prosecution's case was dissolving (though their rhetoric continued full blast) in each fact-found, logical explanation, with no real stretch of imagination. It wasn't that the answers didn't fit together in vague ways. The picture of each event was clearly showing that the prosecution's charges were fraudulent or at least so malfeasant in investigation and case-preparation, that their effort was nothing more than loud marketing of shocking claims without substance.
By comparison, Tom Eagle, the Varnau family lawyer's defense, was thoroughly prepared -- to ask the scene-developing questions, and when an opposing witness developed 'amnesia' (like the Sheriff and a couple Deputies), Tom Eagle reached over the defense table and activated a media file, from sources like the 911-operator or the sheriff's communications records to "refresh" their curiously amnesia-plagued memories. And sure enough, they recalled the events as described.
And the memory-battle with Schadle, where he admitted (with help) to gathering 'evidence' against the Coroner and had collaborated with others in order to cause this case to happen, was justified by Braun as being 'necessary to protect his deputies'. From what did they need protection, the Goldson homicide charge? or from what other possibility specifically that was not in view anywhere. Clearly if the 'outside' use of the grieving kin in BC deaths could be made to weaken the coroner's credibility, then the SO would have a credible chance to force (in court if necessary) the discrediting of the Coroner's opinion of 'homicide' at the Jail. What does it look like to you? To this writer, it certainly looks like the Sheriff's Office USED THE GRIEVING FAMILIES AS PAWNS. TO COVER THEIR OWN CRIMES, whether commission or negligence with complicity in covering it up. And if all was so calm between the SO and the previous coroner, including the jail house 'suicide' in 2011, what else was not too kosher in the Sheriff's administration of 'Justice' and 'Law'n'Order' when the prior coroner simply showed his face only when asked to by the SO. How much criminality is in progress at the SO, and likely not just at death scenes?
The only 'crime' that showed up as an error by the Coroner, was the posting of some documents at her website without proper redacting of the privacy matters. And as soon as the error was reported to her, she immediately had it fixed. And she acknowledged that error and apologized in court for the discomfort caused as her responsibility. This fine woman, had been chosen for high level responsible positions in the military, and done a stellar job, judging by her ascendence up the ranks from second lieutenant to being in charge of nearly three hundred staff in medical operations, stateside as well as oversees, and had in her early days seen action in Vietnam, tending troops in locations where there was active rocketfire. The comparison to the scurvy Sheriff and Chief Deputy is night and day. The only thing now is to await the decision to be formally written by Judge Kessler, who throughout the trial managed a credibly fact-finding focusing, and fair-handed operation, that hasn't been seen in Brown County in years. We don't suppose he'd like to come out of retirement and run here or we'd be elated.