Two University juveniles charged in connection with the death of former Miami sophomore Daniel Ferraro appeared in court Thursday.
The 14- and 15-year old West Chester residents, along with Ferraro and 19-year-old Robert Moser, were allegedly attempting to blow up a fort in Ferraro’s backyard with a homemade pipe bomb when Ferraro suffered fatal head injuries. The 14-year-old faces one charge of involuntary manslaughter and one charge of illegally making explosives. The 15-year-old faces one charge of involuntary manslaughter and one charge of illegal possession of explosives.
Michael Gmoser, attorney for one of the juveniles, said the pretrial hearing for both boys has been set for March 12.
“(We) won’t do anything with the juveniles until the adult case is further along,” Gmoser said.
During Thursday’s hearing, Gmoser filed a written motion on behalf of his client to terminate home incarceration, a move that was opposed by the prosecutor.
“But the judge agreed with my argument and the argument of the probation office,” Gmoser said. “(The incarceration) is done away with, and (the juvenile) is under the rules of pretrial release in the juvenile system.”
He explained that the juvenile is now free on bond as long as he doesn’t violate the terms of the release.
One direction the case could go is to relinquish the juveniles to the General Division Court System, where they would be tried as adults. However, Gmoser said that no one has asked that his client’s case be relinquished.
Gmoser has been working independent of the attorney representing the other juvenile, but said that some of the interests and issues are the same.
Both attorneys are interested in the progress of the Moser case, which was turned over to a grand jury during the week of Jan. 14. Moser was charged with involuntary manslaughter and unlawful possession of dangerous ordinance.
Robin Piper, prosecuting attorney of Butler County, said that now a prosecutor must present a case to the grand jury as to whether Moser should be indicted. This will likely happen in the next few weeks.
If Piper is indicted, a pretrial hearing would be scheduled and a judge and prosecutor assigned to the case. The case would then face a petit jury to decide the defendant’s guilt or innocence.
If Piper is not indicted, the grand jury would pass what is called a “no bill” and the case would be wrapped up at that point. Another option is that the grand jury could increase or decrease the level of charges the defendant faces.
Piper said Moser’s case is being handled just like any other case.
“When a law enforcement agency files a case in the lower court, (there has to be a hearing) to show probable cause, which is when the court asks ‘Has a crime occurred and is the defendant involved?'” Piper said. “However, this (hearing) is not a determinant of guilt or innocence or to show how strong the case is or is not.”
Despite the normalcy of the case’s legal progress in the courts, Piper said the case itself is important in its likely effect on the lives of those involved.
“Obviously this is a very important case because we have a very tragic situation where the people involved lost a friend,” Piper said.
Since the beginning of the trial, Moser has switched legal representative from Nadeem Quraishi of Sams, Fischer, Packard & Schuessler, LLC, to attorney Michael Shanks. Shanks first represented Moser at the Jan. 8 Area III arraignment.
Shanks said Moser hired him with the consent of Quraishi because he is more experienced in the area of criminal law.
“There’s no sinister reason (for changing legal representation),” Shanks said. “He received the aid of his first attorney, who was recommended by a family friend on an emergency basis to deal with the initial issues.”
Shanks said the normal progress of a case is three to six months to resolution, but he said that due to the nature of this case, he will likely schedule a meeting with the prosecutor earlier in the process.