STEUBENVILLE - Jefferson County Juvenile Judge Samuel Kerr plans to step down from presiding over a case involving two Steubenville High School students and has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to appoint a visiting judge for future proceedings.
Fred Abdalla Jr., chief probation office for the juvenile court, said Kerr sent a letter to the state Supreme Court Monday asking for a replacement to be appointed for the case.
"We hope to hear back from the state Supreme Court this week," added Abdalla.
Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin recused herself from the case Monday and announced two attorneys from the Ohio Attorney General's Crimes Against Children unit have been appointed as special assistant prosecutors for the county.
"I will not prosecute this case, but will share what I have learned during the initial investigation with Associate Assistant Attorney General Marianne Hemmeter and Associate Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Brumby," stated Hanlin.
"As special assistant prosecutors (they) will be assigned full authority to investigate and evaluate all facts, circumstances and chains of events leading to, related to, connected to and or subsequent to an alleged rape and or kidnapping," Hanlin said in her petition to be recused that was filed with Jefferson County Common Pleas Court Judge Joseph Bruzzese Monday.
Hanlin said the county will not be financially responsible for the special assistant prosecutors.
Abdalla said the Jefferson County prosecutor's office filed a motion for a discretionary bind over as a possible first step that could see the two high school athletes who are accused of kidnapping and raping a female juvenile tried as adults.
Assistant Prosecutor Sam Pate said Monday afternoon the motion filed earlier in the day will require a preliminary hearing to be held by the visiting judge.
"If probable cause is established at the preliminary hearing, then the court will order an amenability hearing into the background of the two juveniles. The court would then determine if the defendants should be tried as adults or as juveniles," explained Pate.
No hearing date has been set for that issue.
Criminal charges were officially filed Friday morning against Trent Mays, 16, of Bloomingdale charging him with one count of rape, one count of kidnapping and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. Also formally charged Friday was Ma'lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville who faces one count of rape and one count of kidnapping.
Mays and Richmond have been held in the Jefferson County Juvenile Detention Center since their arrest last week.
Steubenville Police Chief Bill McCafferty said Monday afternoon the investigation into the alleged sexual assault against a minor female, "will continue for weeks, if not months."
"We continue to conduct a full investigation into these allegations. I am also urging anyone with knowledge of the incident or who has cell phone photos of the incident to contact my office immediately," stated McCafferty.
"We are still waiting for evidence to come back from the Ohio Bureau of Identification and Investigation from cell phones seized during our investigation. I urge anyone with information about the alleged sexual assault to contact us as soon as possible," noted McCafferty.
Hanlin said a number of witnesses have been interviewed and more interviews will take place in the near future.
Steubenville police began their investigation after parents came to the Steubenville police station on Aug. 14 to report a sexual assault involving their daughter.
(Staff writer Mark Law contributed to this story. Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)