April 21, 2014

Elyria
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Prosecutors seek bond reductions for criminal defendants

ELYRIA — Speedy trial requirements have prompted prosecutors to seek bond reductions for 18 criminal defendants whose cases have not yet been presented to the Lorain County grand jury.

Among those who have been released on personal bonds are Robert Gauna, a 30-year-old Lorain man facing a rape charge from November, and Donald Cannon, who was arrested in November on drug trafficking and weapons charges while police were trying to combat a spike in heroin and fentanyl overdoses.

Cannon, 41, originally was being held in lieu of a $100,000 cash bond and a $100,480 personal bond — which is essentially a signature bond that allows a defendant to go free without actually posting any money.

County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi agreed to prosecutors’ request to convert Cannon’s bond into a $200,480 personal bond in a court order filed Dec. 30. Gauna’s bond was changed from $50,000 cash to $50,000 personal in an order filed the same day.

Not all of those who saw their bonds reduced have been released from the Lorain County Jail.

For instance, April Laster, a Michigan woman facing drug trafficking charges out of Oberlin Municipal Court and whose $75,000 cash bond was converted to a $75,000 personal bond, is being held at the request of Scioto County, according to jail records.

Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will said his office sought the reduced bonds so that several defendants whose cases were facing time problems could be released until their cases can be considered by a grand jury.

Miraldi said that prosecutors have 90 days to bring cases to trial against incarcerated defendants unless they waive time. If a defendant is out of jail, however, prosecutors have 270 days to get the case in front of a jury.

Grand juries are typically empanelled for three-month terms and the most recent grand jury’s term ended the week before Christmas. Because grand juries typically meet on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which were government holidays last month, a new grand jury has not been selected or met since the middle of last month.

Will said the cold that closed the Lorain County Justice Center today will keep a new grand jury from being selected until Wednesday and it could be until next week when grand jurors will be able to hear a substantial number of cases.

Will said his office took the decision to reduce the bonds for the defendants, who face charges including domestic violence, theft, misuse of credit cards, felonious assault, robbery and kidnapping, seriously.

“It was cautious and circumspect,” Will said, adding that some defendants who were facing time problems in more serious cases weren’t released.

Miraldi said he typically agrees to prosecutors’ requests to lower bonds before cases are presented to a grand jury without asking for much in the way of an explanation. He said he thinks it’s usually because prosecutors think there are potential problems with a case or, as in this instance, because there’s a time problem.

“I relied on their recommendations in the past and never had a problem,” Miraldi said. “There is usually a pretty good reason.”

Will said it’s possible that the newly seated grand jury will need to meet extra days in order to catch up with the backlog of cases that need to be reviewed.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.

  • WTFnext

    So now we let people out of jail for major crimes on their signature alone? How much money will it cost to go and find the ones who choose to skip out on their court date?. Posting a significant amount of money is incentive to return to court so that your family or friends get their money back. I say just lengthen the time that they have to bring the case to trial instead of making things easier on the criminal.

    • Tommy Peel

      The people whose bonds were lowered are not criminals until they are convicted of a crime.

      • WTFnext

        You are right, they are innocent until proven guilty. However, law enforcement try to make sure they got the right person before they arrest them. They don’t go and pick someone from the crowd and accuse them.

        • Tommy Peel

          You are right also, law enforcement doesn’t pick someone from the crowd, but getting back to your original post, no one is making it easier for the “criminal” they are making it easier for he “defendant”!!!. Not everyone waives their right to a speedy trial.

    • Thomas Woods

      I bet the victim of this crime was happy to hear the news considering Elyria/Lorain are not sprawling metros to be anonymous in. Seriously, there was no one else they could have let go like some crackhead in for possession?

  • GreatRedeemer

    is there not two grand juries in Lorain county ? Why are the cases so back logged.

  • Thomas Calkins

    Its horrible to let these people out on a signature bond. But to just start extending the time because the system is backed up is unconstitutional and you can bet that it (time extensions) would be applied to everyone for anything eventually. This is the USA, not North Korea or Iran.

  • read the whole story

    It must be so frustrating to be a police officer. All that work just to put these people back on streets

    • Tommy Peel

      The prosecutors would hate to let someone out of jail because they couldn’t bring them to trial within a certain amount of time.
      This way they have 270 days, instead of 90days.

      • Razorback Twou

        So who was dragging their feet and partying their butt off during the holidays and not doing their jobs? Prosecutor Will and his office staff perhaps?

      • WTFnext

        Like I said in my original post, lengthen the time to bring them to trial rather than lower the bond to a signature.

        • Joe Smith

          Except for the accused have a right to a speedy trial

        • Tommy Peel

          By law a defendant has a right to a speedy trial, right now it is 90 days. If you lengthen the time, would it still be considered a speedy trial?