CARROLL CASE OPTION URGED

Date: 1993-08-14
Source: newsbank.com

CARROLL CASE OPTION URGED

August 14, 1993
Janice Haidet
Dayton Daily News
       
Investigators think the safety of the remaining Carroll children will be at risk if all four remain in the Cedarville home where four others died.

If they are removed from the home, family supporters fear the children will be emotionally traumatized. But what would happen if just James Carroll - the 17-year-old charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with one of the deaths - were removed from the home? That possible compromise, suggested by Stephen Bogenschutz, a court-appointed advocate for the children, rang in the air at the conclusion of a daylong custody hearing in Greene County Juvenile Court on Friday.

Bogenschutz suggested the removal of James, charged in the Sept. 21 bleach-burning death of his 6-year-old adoptive sister, Hannah, would result in the most benefits and the least problems.

James has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is expected to go on trial in juvenile court Aug. 30.

"(James) could live with relatives outside the home. . . . I'm not advocating that, but it is a possibility," Bogenschutz told Visiting Judge Richard T. Cole.

The Ohio Supreme Court last week appointed Cole to replace Judge Robert A. Hagler, who removed himself from the case in which he'd seen four suspicious deaths occur in the home during a nine-month period.

Cole said he will render his decision on the custody issue Tuesday.

Since entering the case, Cole has been bombarded with testimony from at least a dozen witnesses, along with exhibits including a 928-page transcript of a four-day inquest conducted by Coroner Manoj Desai.

John H. Rion and Dennis Gump, lawyers for adoptive parents Kathleen and Timothy Carroll, talked sentimentally at Friday's hearing about keeping the family together.

They said the opposition had failed to produce compelling evidence for placing the children in emergency custody of the county Children Services Board.

But Assistant County Prosecutor Suzanne Schmidt urged Cole to "err on the side of caution."

"As far as I'm concerned . . . death is an emergency. In this case we have three deaths; we consider that a crisis," Schmidt said, referring to the deaths that followed Hannah's.

In Hannah's death, Kathleen and Timothy Carroll each pleaded guilty to two counts of contributing to the neglect of a child. The three deaths that followed were those of Noah, a 3-year-old crack baby, Nov. 15; Mollie, a 3-year-old with severe allergies and mental retardation, Dec. 9; and Josiah, 12, an asthmatic with motor impairment, June 14.

Bogenschutz, a Cedarville attorney appointed by Hagler as guardian ad litem for the children, questioned the strength of the evidence used to classify the deaths of Noah, Mollie and Josiah as suspicious.

Medical experts stated during the inquest that they "couldn't rule out" suffocation as a cause of those three deaths.

Bogenschutz said the evidence and that argument fail to constitute "preponderance of the evidence," the degree of proof required to win a civil case.

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