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Sanders

From the Office of:

ROB SANDERS
COMMONWEALTH'S ATTORNEY
16th Judicial Circuit - Kenton County, KY 

 

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This Week in Kenton Circuit Court...
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Issue #241September 7, 2012
Greetings Kenton County!
 
The men and women of the Commonwealth's Attorney Office are always working hard to keep Kenton County safe.  This newsletter is intended to keep all interested parties up to date on the latest in prosecution and law enforcement news.  If you have any questions or would like additional information about the cases you see in this email, please call (859) 292-6580 or email the Commonwealth's Attorney Office at robsanders@kentonprosecutor.com .
 
GUILTY VERDICT
Commonwealth v. Mohamud Abukar Mohommad Abukar

Judge: Sheehan

Prosecutors: Leanne Beck/ Megan Mersch

Police: Erlanger 

 

On October 10, 2010 a couple in their early 20's was celebrating a friend's birthday at Newport On the Levee. Realizing they were too intoxicated to drive, the couple did the responsible thing and hailed a cab rather than driving home.  The couple was picked up by a Yellow Cab driven by a man later identified as Mohamud Abukar.  The boyfriend passed out in the front seat of the cab. Abukar kept driving in a circuitious route until the girlfriend passed out in the back. The young woman awoke to Abukar on top of her.  Her skirt was pulled up and Abukar was engaged in intercourse with her.  When she began to struggle, Abukar jumped up, got back in the front of the cab and began driving again.  The cab had been parked in a remote portion of Erlanger.  When the woman began to recognize her surroundings, she demanded to be let out of the cab.  She woke her boyfriend and the couple made their way to Circle K gas station on Dixie Hwy. in Erlanger.  By now, it was 7am.

The couple phoned police and the woman was taken to St. Elizabeth hospital for a rape examination.  During the exam, semen was located on the woman and her undergarments.  The couple could not, however, provide the name of the cab driver.  The boyfriend did know that he has seen the cab driver come into a convenience store where the boyfriend works.  Two days later, on October 12, 2010, the boyfriend phoned police when the cab driver showed up again at the boyfriend's place of employment.  Erlanger Police responded and were able to stop the cab shortly after it left the lot.  Officers identified the driver as Mohamud M. Abukar, 38, a naturalized US citizen that had emmigrated from Somalia and was not living in Florence.

Abukar agreed to be interviewed at the Erlanger Police Department by Detective Dan Fern and Lt. Kevin Gilpin.  Abukar admitted to the investigators that the couple were in his cab from 1:30 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. on October 10th but denied any sexual contact with the woman.  Abukar's story was far from clear but essentially claimed the couple passed out, he did not know where to drop them off, and so he just drove them around for 4 1/2 hours.  In fact, Abukar did drive the couple around for several hours which was confirmed by matching security videos from several gas stations to Abukar's story.  Detectives collected a DNA sample from Abukar, took his picture, and he was released.  On October 14, 2010, the victim was shown a photo line-up containing Abukar's photo.  Without hesitation she picked Abukar as her attacker.  Erlanger Detective Kim Klare then obtained an arrest warrant for Abukar charging him with 1st Degree Rape and he was arrested a day later.

Abukar was able to post a significant cash bond and was released from the Kenton County Detention Center after a few days.  He was subsequently indicted by the Kenton County Grand Jury for 1st Degree Rape.  After months of delays waiting on the severely underfunded KY State Police Crime Lab to complete testing of the evidence, DNA results finally came back.  The sample found on the victim's undergarments conclusively matched Abukar.  The same recovered from her body was a mixture of Abukar and another, unknown, male.  The boyfriend was eliminated as the source of unknown male DNA.  A DNA expert would later opine that similarities between Abukar's DNA and that of the unknown male suggested the source was either a relative of Abukar's or another male of Somalian ancestry.

After more months of legal wrangling and continuances sought by the defense, the case was finally called for trial before Kenton Circuit Judge Martin Sheehan on May 23, 2012.  Asst. Commonwealth's Attorneys Leanne Beck and Megan Mersch presented testimony and evidence from numerous witnesses over the course of a three day trial.  The defense called several witnesses as well, but not Abukar.  The defense claimed the police work was sub-par but had no viable explanation for Abukar's DNA other than claiming the victim "may have sat in it."  Prosecutors were quick to point out there was no testimony or evidence to explain how a puddle of the defendant's semen could have been in the victim's seat, other than the victim being raped. 

Jurors wasted little time in returning a verdict finding Abukar guilty as charged.  After a sentencing phase of the trial, the jury recommended a 12 year prison sentence.  After multiple delays, Abukar appeared before the court again for formal, final sentencing on 9/6/12, the judge followed the jury's recommendation and sentenced Abukar to 12 years in prison.  Abukar must serve approximately 10 years before being eligible for parole and will be required to register as a sex offender for life.  At final sentencing, the Defendant refused to sign the notice of his duty to register as a sexual offender.  If the Defendant refuses to participate in sex offender treatment while in prison, he will not be eligible for parole.

 

GUILTY VERDICT
Commonwealth v. Alvin McDaniel Alvin McDaniel
Commonwealth v. Iris Jennings
Judge: Sheehan
Prosecutor: James T. Redwine
Police: Covington     

 

On June 23, 2011, at 6:30 p.m., Covington Police Officer Ryan Eldridge spotted commotion in the 1400 block of Wheeler Iris Jennings Street.  Upon investigation, Eldridge and other officers learned there had been a fist fight between several juvenile girls moments earlier.  The fight was broken up by Boysie Washington, who's daughter was one of the combatants.  After the girls were separated, one tried to attack Washington's daughter again.  Washington intervened and shoved the girl away.  Under KY law, officers can only make an arrest for misdemeanor assault if the officer witnesses the assault (other than domestic violence).  The parties separated and went their separate ways, however, several hoostile comments were made about Washington "putting his hands on a girl."

 

Shortly after 8 p.m., Covington Police were called back to the same location for a shooting.  Officers located Washington suffering from gunshot wounds to the arm, back, and leg.  Washington was losing consciousness and unable to speak.  Tarsha Henderson was also discovered to have been shot in the hand.  Covington Fire Dept. paramedics transported Washington and Henderson to University of Cincinnati Medical Center for treatment.  Three juvenile females witnessed the shooting and told officers a gold car drove by 10-15 minutes earlier.  When the car returned, a woman known to them as Iris Jennings leaned out of the car window and said "What's up Boysie?"  The girls said Washington responded saying "What's up Iris?"  During the exchange between Jennings and Washington, a man later identified as Alvin McDaniel, who was Jennings' boyfriend, exited the driver's side of the gold car with his right hand concealed under a towel.  The girls told police McDaniel said "You think you can put your hands on my daughter" and pulled a handgun from beneath the towel.  Before Washington could answer, McDaniel began firing.  Washington was struck four times.  Henderson was apparently an innocent bystander who was hit by an errant shot.  Subsequent investigation would prove Jennings' daughter is no relation to McDaniel. 

 

Covington Police Detective Corey Warner responded to conduct the investigation.  While Warner was interviewing witness at police HQ, officers spotted Jennings standing outside the police department.  Jennings was brought in for an interview.  Jennings proceeded to deny being present for the shooting, claimed she was at a bar in Ohio when she began receiving messages about her daughter being in a fight, then lied about the name of the man that drove her to Kentucky.  Jennings claimed she barely knew McDaniel and only referred to him by a street name.  Detective Warner entered information about the shooter gathered from several interviews into a computer database that eventually suggested McDaniel as a suspect.  Both Washington and Henderson subsequently identified a photo of McDaniel as the man who shot them. 

 

McDaniel was arrested and charged with 2 counts of 1st Degree Assault.  Jennings was arrested and charged with Facilitation of 1st Degree Assault.  Both were indicted by the Kenton County Grand Jury for the same charges.  McDaniel was also indicted for 2nd Degree Persistent Felony Offender.  The case was called to trial before Kenton Circuit Court Judge Martin J. Sheehan on July 24, 2012.  1st Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Redwine presented testimony from both shooting victims, the three witnesses, Detective Warner, Lt. Greg Jones, Officer Eldridge, and Officer Homphothichak.  Redwine also called a witness from Cincinnati Bell who produced text messages from Jennings to unknown persons indicating the shooting was about to take place and that Washington was the target.  In addition, a Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy testified he stopped McDaniel driving in the same gold car shortly after the incident.

 

At trial, McDaniel never denied shooting Washington.  Instead, he argued through his attorney that he suffered from "Extreme Emotional Distress" (EED) at the time of the shooting.  Jennings denied any involvement in the shooting and claimed she had no idea it was about to take place.  Washington took the stand in his own defense.  In addition to the EED claim, McDaniel also threw in a claim that Washington also had a gun and shot first.  This claim did not match the testimony of any other witnesses and his own lawyer never mentioned those facts in opening statements.  After the four day trial, the jury returned a verdict finding both McDaniel and Jennings guilty as charged.  The jury then convicted McDaniel of the 2nd Degree PFO charge as well, enhancing the punishment for the assaults from 10-20 years to 20-50 years or life.  Had his EED defense worked, punishment would have been 1-5 years enhanced to 5-10 years but eligible for parole in only 20% of his sentence.  Instead, the jury recommended a 20 year sentence on each count of Assault 1st Degree, and that the sentences run consecutively for a total of 40 years.  The jury recommended a 1 year sentence for Jennings.  McDaniel will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least 20 years of his sentence.

On 8/28/12, the defendants appeared before the court again for formal, final sentencing.  After hearing arguments from counsel, Judge Sheehan sentenced Jennings to 1 year but probated the sentence for a period of 3 years, meaning Jennings will not have to go to prison unless her she violates her probation and it is revoked by the court.  The judge then sentenced McDaniel to a reduced sentence of 25 years in prison despite the jury's 40 year recommendation.

Guilty Pleas & Sentencing

Commonwealth v. David Holt  David Holt
Judge: Summe

Prosecutor: Corey Plybon
Police Agency: KSP

On 9/5/12 Holt pled guilty to Receiving Stolen Property (>$500). Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Corey Plybon is recommending a 2 year prison sentence. Final sentencing is set for 9/25/12.

Commonwealth v. Donnie Peniston Donnie Penniston
Judge: Summe

Prosecutor: Casey Burns
Police Agency: Covington

  

On 9/5/12 Peniston pled guilty to Prohibited Acts Related to a Controlled Substance. Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Casey Burns is recommending that Peniston, who has no felony record, be ordered into the felony diversion program for 4 years. Final sentencing is set for 10/9/12.

Commonwealth v.  Abigail Smith Abigail Smith
Judge: Bartlett

Prosecutor: Corey Plybon
Police Agency: Ludlow     

  

On 9/6/12 Smith pled guilty to Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument 2nd Degree. Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Corey Plybon is recommending a 2 1/2 year prison sentence. Final sentencing is set for 10/8/12.

Commonwealth v. Sentel Brooks Sentel Brooks
Judge: Bartlett 
Prosecutor: Noah Wentz/Casey Burns
Police Agency:  Covington/Erlanger

On 9/6/12 Brooks pled guilty to Receiving Stolen Property (>$500). Asst. Commonwealth's Attorneys Noah Wentz and Casey Burns are recommending a 15 month prison sentence. Final sentencing is set for 11/13/12.

  

Commonwealth v. Robert Legner Robert Legner
Judge: Bartlett  
Prosecutor: Noah Wentz
Police Agency: Erlanger

On 9/6/12 Legner pled guilty to Possession of a Controlled Substance (heroin). Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Noah Wentz is recommending a 1 year prison sentence. Final sentencing is set for 10/8/12.

 

Commonwealth v. Johnny Richey Jr. Johnny Richey
Judge: Bartlett 
Prosecutor: Casey Burns
Police Agency: Covington  

  

On 9/6/12 Richey pled guilty to 2 counts of Trafficking in a Controlled Substance (cocaine). Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Casey Burns is recommending a 5 year prison sentence. Final sentencing is set for 10/8/12.


Commonwealth v.  Elisa Rowe Elisa Rowe    
Judge: Bartlett 
Prosecutor: Rob Sanders
Police Agency: CAO

On 9/6/12 Rowe pled guilty to Bailjumping. Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders is recommending that Rowe, who has no felony record, be ordered into the felony diversion program for 3 years. Final sentencing is set for 10/8/12.


Commonwealth v. Joseph Deatley Joseph Deatley  
Judge: Bartlett 
Prosecutor: Megan Mersch
Police Agency: Independence

On 9/6/12 Deatley pled guilty to Wanton Endangerment and Sexual Misconduct. Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Megan Mersch is recommending a sentence of 5 years probated for 4 years. Final sentencing is set for 10/8/12.

  

Commonwealth v. Clyde Rice  CLyde Rice

Judge: Sheehan

Prosecutor: Megan Mersch
Police Agency: Covington

  

On 9/6/12 Clyde Rice pled guilty to Failure to Register as a Sex Offender. Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Megan Mersch is recommending a 2 year prison sentence. Final sentencing is set for 10/22/12.

   

Commonwealth v. James King James King  
Judge: Sheehan 

Prosecutor: Megan Mersch

Police Agency: Covington


On 8/8/12 King pled guilty to Burglary 2nd Degree. Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Megan Mersch recommended a 10 year prison sentence. On 9/6/12 King was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Commonwealth v. Jeffrey Wagner  Jeffrey Wagner
Judge: Sheehan 
Prosecutor:  Corey Plybon     
Police Agency: Covington

On 7/9/12 Wagner pled guilty to Burglary 2nd Degree. Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Corey Plybon recommended a 5 year prison sentence. On 9/6/12 Wagner was sentenced to 5 years in prison consecutive to another case. 

  

Commonwealth v. Jeffrey Wagner Jeffrey Wagner
Judge: Sheehan 
Prosecutor: Corey Plybon    
Police Agency: Covington

On 8/8/12 Wagner pled guilty to Theft (>$500). Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Corey Plybon recommended a 1 1/2 year prison sentence. On 9/6/12 Wagner was sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison consecutive to another case. 
 
  
Commonwealth v. Mohamud Abukar Mohommad Abukar  
Judge: Sheehan 
Prosecutor: Leanne Beck 
Police Agency: Erlanger

On 5/29/12 a jury found Abukar guilty of Rape 1st Degree. The jury recommended a 12 year prison sentence. On 9/6/12 Abukar was sentenced to 12 years in prison. 

Commonwealth v.  Marcus Webster Marcus Webster  
Judge: Sheehan 
Prosecutor: Casey Burns     
Police Agency: Covington

On 8/8/12 Webster pled guilty to Trafficking in a Controlled Substance (hydrocodone). Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Casey Burns recommended a 1 1/2 year prison sentence. On 9/6/12 Webster was sentenced to 1 1/2 years probated for 5 years. 
  

  

 
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Other Law Enforcement News:

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$50K Bond For Suspects in Fatal Burglary

Carjackers Can't Drive a Stick: FAIL!
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed about criminal justice in Kenton County.   
 
Sincerely,
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Rob Sanders
Commonwealth's Attorney Office

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