Judge closes hearing to media, public

SIDNEY — A two-day Amenability Hearing has been scheduled in Shelby County Juvenile Court for the juvenile accused in the death of another teenager.

Judge Jeffrey Beigel ruled Monday afternoon the Aug. 24-25 hearing will be closed to all media and public because of the confidentially of the proceedings.

In his ruling, Beigel wrote, “the Court has previously allowed access to the proceedings on the merits as required to balance the public interest giving due consideration to the nature of concerns in juvenile matters. That access has allowed reporting as long as it did not identify the juvenile and family. Local media has responsibly handled those limitations.”

Beigel further stated the Amenability Hearing “comes before further proceedings on the merits of the case and involves significant expert and lay testimony regarding the child’s personal and social history, education, family situation, and other factors bearing on whether the child is amenable to juvenile rehabilitation, including the results of mental health examination(s) that are treated as confidential when ordered by the Court. It also involves significant testimony that, by direct association, will necessarily make identification of the juvenile and family more likely, regardless of the good faith intentions of the media.”

Following the Amenability Hearing, he said, the case will subject to more open to proceedings on the merits.

“If the determination is made to bind over the prosecution to the adult court, those proceedings are typically public. If the Court does not bind over the child to the adult court and the State pursues adult penalties in the juvenile court, those proceedings are also typically public,” Beigel wrote. “As such, as it regards the merits of this case, the public interest will be served in either of those events.”

Beigel said at this stage of the proceedings, “the Court does not find access by the media and public to be appropriate. At this stage of the proceedings, the Court finds that the confidentiality of the child outweighs the public interests and should be protected.”

“Accordingly, the Amenability Hearing shall be closed to the media and public and treated as a confidential proceeding as provided by law. This Order does not limit the rights of the victims to be present as permitted by law. The Court also specifically authorizes and excepts that the written terms of this Order may be made public and reported by the media.”

In attendance for Monday’s meeting were Assistant Prosecutor Heath Hegemann, Sidney Police Capt. Jerry Tangeman, the juvenile and the juvenile’s attorney, Andrew Venters, Victim Services and Juvenile Probation, and Sidney Daily News Editor Melanie Speicher. The child’s parents — who were notified of the hearing — were not present.

The juvenile is being charged as a delinquent juvenile who purposely caused the death of another 15-year-old male by stabbing him to death. The prosecutor’s office has requested the case be transferred to adult court — Shelby County Common Pleas Court.