Justice: Denied -- The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted




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No Evidence, Crooked Prosecutor -- The Elmer E. Ahart Jr. Story

Elmer Ahart

Case Account Provided by Elmer Ahart
Edited by Stormy Thoming-Gale, JD Staff

Editor's Note: Elmer Ahart has copies of the hearing transcripts and also the Motion of Discovery available for anyone who is interested in helping him receive true justice in his case. This case demands a retrial. Elmer tells his story in his own words.

My name is Elmer Ahart Jr. I was born, raised and have resided in Youngstown, Ohio all my life. On June 21, 1992, four people were shot at 3:00 a.m. My ex-girlfriend, Jannette Bell-Frierson, her friends, Darlene Harville and Carlson Ison and Darren Brooks. Jannette Bell-Frierson and Carlson Ison were killed at the scene. Darlene Harville died days after the shooting and Darren Brooks was wounded but survived.

Two hours later on the same day, I was awakened from my sleep at the home I shared with Jannette by a voice over a police car P.A. system, saying, "Elmer Ahart come out with your hands up." I woke up to a nightmare far worse than I could ever have dreamt. The voice loudly demanded that I come out immediately or they would kick in the door. In utter disbelief, confusion and, yes, fear, I stood at the door looking out at the flashing lights with only a pair of pants on. I thought, "What the hell is going on?"

"Elmer Ahart, you are surrounded, this is the police, come on out with your hands in plain sight, make no sudden moves or we will shoot." The voice said.

I stepped out slowly onto the front porch with my hands in the air. I am handicapped. My right leg is 3 inches shorter than my left and significantly bowed out. I could see police officers on both sides of my porch pointing guns at me. There were officers leaning over the cruiser in front of my house pointing guns at me.

I said, "What do you want?"

They said, "Shut-up and come down off of the porch very slowly, keep your hands in the air."

And I did.

When I got to within 10 feet of the police car that was parked in front of my house I was ordered to lie down on the ground. I was then pushed face down into the sidewalk, handcuffed behind my back, picked up off the ground and dragged down to the end of the block to a police car so that the news media could film me. This was the new image of me, as seen on the TV news. I was labeled a Murderer.

The police car was driven back in front of my house where I sat watching the police rush into my home, all without a warrant of any kind. The police went in and came out with a red and black Nike air sweat suit and black sneakers. They put the shoes on my feet and draped the jacket over my shoulders. I was told that I was under arrest for murder.

At my arraignment on Monday morning I was asked, "How do you plead?" I said that I did not have a lawyer and wanted one. I was told to waive my rights to a preliminary hearing and that was the one and only time that I saw an Attorney, Tom Zena. I then pleaded, "not guilty."

Four days later, after the death of Darlene Harville, I was moved to the county jail, where I remained for 461 days. During that time the mother of one of the victims appeared on TV, thanking the prosecutor, James A Philomena, for my conviction before I was ever taken into court.

On September 13, 1993, I was taken to the courthouse and told by my Attorney, James S. Gentile, that I would plead guilty or he would guarantee that I would die in the electric chair. I refused and the Youngstown Vindicator headlines read, "Murderer Refuses to Plead Guilty!"

On September 14, 1993, I was taken to prison after a sentencing hearing. In an attempt to plead me guilty against my will, my lawyer said, "the defendant would plead guilty to," (here he read of all of the charges) then looked at me and asked, "Are those your pleas Mr. Ahart?"

I did say yes to him, but it's not legal for me to be sentenced for lawyer-client questioning. The judge must address the defendant personally to get a guilty plea and when the judge asked me if I wished to plead at this time, my plea was NOT GUILTY and that is on and in the record. The judge just flat out ignored my plea. He sentenced me for saying "yes" to a question asked of me by my attorney.

The prosecutor in my case, James A. Philomena, later pleaded guilty to accepting money to fix cases in Mahoning County and is now serving time in prison.

I was singled out and made to appear guilty to fill a void and close a case without the least amount of due process whatsoever. All [of] my Constitutional rights were violated from the very start of this case. There is absolutely no evidence placing me at the scene of the crime.

The surviving victim, Darren Brooks', statement in this case puts him doing everything that another witness claims she saw me doing. Darren Brooks also admitted that he drove away from the crime scene with a dead body in his car. He went several blocks away, parked and waited for the police, totally altering and destroying the crime scene in the process before the arrival of the police investigators.

Darren Brooks was present at the hearing but said nothing. He did not point to me and say "that man did it."

Jealously was given as my motive and they claimed that I tried to make someone love me that did not want to. Jannette attempted suicide every time I attempted to leave her and that is documented. She was previously taken to the hospital where she escaped and left without permission.

I was at home with my ex-girlfriend's 12 year-old son when the shooting occurred. We were both asleep, until I was awakened by the police. I was at home exactly where I was supposed to be at that time of the morning, asleep.

I am currently in Trumbull Correctional Institution in Leavittsburg, Ohio, awaiting the outcome of my direct appeal. I successfully had my case reopened after my attorneys tried to sabotage my appeal process in 1993. I have been spending as much time as possible trying to win my freedom. I knew nothing about the law when this occurred in 1992.

I was able to learn how to apply for an Appellate Rule 26 (B). Reopening of Appeal, which they granted. They appointed a public defender to me and my oral argument is scheduled for hearing on March 27, 2001 in Youngstown Ohio. (JD does not know the results of the March 27, 2001 hearing yet, but will provide an update as soon as we do.)

The hardest part of it all is the fact that it all stems from corrupted officials in Youngstown, Ohio who have accepted money to convict anyone just to make it all look good.

I did not commit this crime, nor did they even bother to try to prove that I did. They just placed me in prison to close a case. I have no money and I get no justice.


Mr. Elmer Eugene Ahart Jr. #281-688 TCI
5701 Burnette Rd.
Leavittsburg, OH 44430-0901

©Justice: Denied

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