By BRIAN BOHNERT
City officials expressed frustration Tuesday regarding the Seneca County Grand Jury’s decision not to indict a Fostoria man accused of assaulting his infant daughter last month.
Michael A. Vain, 51, 423 Stadium Drive, was arrested June 3 after Fostoria police witnessed him shaking and kicking a stroller containing his 3-month-old daughter. Vain was booked and charged with child endangerment, a third-degree felony, and domestic violence, a first-degree misdemeanor, out of Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court.
The felony case was bound over to Seneca County Common Pleas Court while the domestic violence charge was “dismissed without prejudice” at 8:45 a.m. June 10, per the request of Assistant Seneca County Prosecutor Stephanie J. Reed, Fostoria Law Director Tim Hoover said in a Tuesday interview with the Review Times.
The grand jury met last week and ruled there was insufficient evidence to indict Vain on the felony charge. Francis Marley Jr., the attorney who represented Vain, said the case was presented to the grand jury after he and his client waived the right for a preliminary hearing in the municipal court.
As of July 10, Hoover said Vain had been in custody at Seneca County Jail for 37 days, putting city prosecutors seven days outside the 30-day time limit to legally file additional misdemeanor charges.
“When you dismiss a felony and there’s no currently pending misdemeanor, you’re out of luck,” Hoover said. “When you bring someone into custody, you have 30 days to bring them to trial on misdemeanor charges. He was held for 37 days … Under Ohio law, that means we are outside by seven days of speedy trial time; which means, we cannot charge him.”
Additionally, Hoover said any attempts to file more charges against Vain through Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court could put the city at risk of a lawsuit.
“We believe that from the time Mr. Vain was arrested to the time Officer (Evan) Ely was informed he was not charged, there were probably two, maybe three grand jury sessions,” he said. “I’m at a loss to understand why a fairly straightforward case involving a child took over a month to get some attention.”
According to official reports, the initial call came in at 8 a.m. June 3 in which a complainant reported seeing an “extremely agitated” male shaking and kicking a stroller several times on West High Street.
A narrative report compiled by Officer Evan Ely, the primary officer on the case, states the complainant could hear an infant crying inside the stroller as the man shook it from side to side and then began kicking the underneath portion where the baby would have been located.
Officers Chad Marchetto and Adam Nelson arrived at Vain’s Stadium Drive residence first and witnessed Vain assaulting his child. The officers were later joined by Ely, Officer Justin Kiser, Sgt. Clayton Moore and Officer Cory Brian, according to reports.
In his written statement, Marchetto described what he and Nelson saw when they arrived on the scene: “I observed the male pick the stroller up and slam it on the front porch and then began shaking the stroller from side to side. I could hear him yelling and the baby was then screaming … He then flung the front door open and picked the stroller up in the air again and slammed the stroller in like a throwing motion into the house.”
Reports from multiple officers indicate the child had a bruise “between the size of a nickel and quarter” on her forehead near her right eye. In his statement, Ely said Vain could not offer a clear explanation as to how the child sustained the lump.
According to court records, the child’s mother sought treatment for her daughter at ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital. The infant was later transported to Toledo Children’s Hospital for further treatment.
Fostoria Police Chief Keith Loreno said he and his officers were disappointed the grand jury dismissed Vain’s charge, but they understand the American justice system has its process.
“I feel the investigation was very well put together by my officers,” he said. “But that is our system of law and we have to accept that, even though the outcome may have been disappointing.”
Hoover, a father of three, said while he is not trying to cause ill will toward anyone on the county level, he is extremely dissatisfied at the length of time it took for the case to go before a grand jury.
“I think my staff and I have a righteous sense of indignation for a case involving alleged harm to a child that would essentially fall through the cracks,” he said. “If we had known that this would’ve happened, we never would have dismissed that (domestic violence) charge. Certainly we won’t make that mistake again.”
A message left at the office of Seneca County Prosecutor Derek W. DeVine was not returned by presstime.
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