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Longo: Defendant 'mystified' about CBCF rejection; judge opts for probation, not prison

Cary Ashby • Oct 3, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Defendant Trae A. Hunter was baffled why he got rejected from a locked-down treatment center.

Huron County Public Defender David Longo described his client as being "mystified" about not being accepted into a community-based corrections facility (CBCF), a form of prison which focuses on substance abuse treatment and education.

Hunter told Longo his interview went well and the CBCF official told him there would be a bed available for him, Longo said -- only to have a higher-ranking administrator turn down his client later.

"It seems like there's a really narrow window of who they are accepting," Longo said.

The public defender also told Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway he has represented defendants who were at moderate risk for being rejected who made it into a CBCF. Longo expressed frustration or confusion on why someone like Hunter then would be rejected because of his violent past and criminal record.

"I think have a chance to turn my life around," Hunter told the judge. "This is not the road I should be taking. ... I'm willing to make a change."

On Sept. 11, Hunter was ordered to complete four to six months in a CBCF program.

The 20-year-old Sandusky man pleaded guilty July 30 to attempted assault on a police officer and domestic violence. Norwalk Police Capt. Eric Hipp, who responded to the May 18 domestic disturbance complaint at home of Hunter's ex-girlfriend, sustained several injuries after a tussle in a narrow hallway with Hunter, who was fleeing from officers and earlier threw a TV at them and punched Hipp in the face.

"I want the court to know I'm sorry for the decision I made. My anger got the best of me," Hunter said in September.

Hipp was treated for bruised ribs and contusions to his lip and chest wall at Fisher-Titus Medical Center.

Hunter was back in court Tuesday to be resentenced since he was rejected from acceptance into a CBCF.

Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said his first reaction to an incident which injured an officer would be to request a prison term, but he said probation officer Andrea Cooke recommended Hunter be placed on intensive probation.

And that's exactly what the judge did. Hunter, who was in jail for 138 days, received no further time behind bars.

"You have to walk a real fine line here," Conway told him.

For the next three years, Hunter is prohibited from having any contact with the domestic violence victim. He also must undergo anger management and substance abuse counseling, get his GED and obtain and keep a full-time job. The defendant, who was fined $250, is subject to random drug screens.

Hunter faces one year in prison if he violates the terms of his probation.

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