Emily Harvey wiped her tears, choking out between sobs that doing the right thing had come at the price of her daughter’s life.
Brittany Nicole Jeffers, 21, has been declared brain-dead in a Columbus hospital after being beaten during a brawl stemming from Harvey’s call to police to report an attempted burglary at a neighbor’s house.
Harvey, 37, identified the suspect as a 17-year-old who lives nearby. She said she later saw him punch Jeffers and kick her in the head during a confrontation with the boy’s family.
Circleville police last night filed charges of aggravated riot and riot against two adults and two juveniles. Police Chief Harold Gray said the people were picked up because it was feared that some would flee.
"This is the very first process in an investigation that’s going to take a while,” Gray said. Any additional charges will depend on the coroner’s findings and other evidence, he said.
Nicole Leasure, 37, of 1005 S. Washington St., and Cameron Eby, 20, of 946 Stoutsville Pike, each was charged with aggravated riot, a fourth-degree felony. Brandon Bolin, 17, of 207 Walnut St., was charged with a delinquency count of aggravated riot. Keely Martin, 17, who is Leasure’s daughter, is charged with a delinquency count of riot, a first-degree misdemeanor.
Circleville Municipal Court Judge Gary Dumm this morning ordered Eby and Leasure held under $500,000 bonds after prosecutors expressed fears they could flee. Eby was wanted for a probation violation when he was arrested and Leasure is an ex-felon who once was a fugitive from justice, said Jayme Hartley Fountain, assistant county prosecutor.
Brittany Jeffers' family and friends greeted the high bonds with cheers in the courtroom, while Leasure was removed by a jailer after she let loose with an expletive-filled rant at the judge, Fountain said.
Pickaway County Juvenile Court Judge Jan Long this morning ordered Bolin and Martin held in a juvenile-detention center in Lancaster until another hearing on April 11.
While Emily Harvey waited yesterday to say farewell to her daughter once organ-donation arrangements were complete and life-support systems could be removed, she recounted what happened early Wednesday afternoon.
“I don’t have a daughter anymore. ... Two babies don’t have a mother,” she said. “I do blame myself, because if I would have never got involved, my daughter would have never passed away.”
Around 12:30 p.m., Harvey said, she saw a teenage neighbor attempt to kick in the door of the house across the street. The youth, whom Harvey identified to police when they arrived, fled when he spotted her looking at him, she said.
Later, Harvey was standing outside her Walnut Street house with Jeffers and her stepdaughter, 18-year-old Angel Haines, when a teenage girl came out of a house and yelled threats about Harvey’s having identified the youth to police.
Haines walked to the nearby intersection of S. Washington and Walnut streets to tell the girl to stop threatening her mother, as other people spilled out of the same house and a nearby car, Harvey said.
Jeffers ran to the defense of her stepsister. A fight broke out, with Jeffers ending up on the ground atop a woman, Harvey said. She said the teen she had seen trying to kick in the door then punched and kicked Jeffers.
As people fled, Harvey ran to the corner and found her daughter unresponsive, gasping for breath and turning blue. Jeffers was flown to Grant Medical Center and declared brain-dead early yesterday.
Gray would not identify the suspect in the attempted break-in because no one has been charged with that offense.Neighbors were taking the first steps yesterday afternoon to raise money to help Harvey with the expense of burying her daughter, who leaves a 5-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter.
Friends and relatives described her as a good mother and a kindhearted soul, the type who “would do anything for anybody,” said her aunt, Melody Hill.
Pam Croston, 42, lives nearby. She didn’t know Jeffers or her family but went to Washington and Walnut to place a vase of red roses. The attached note read: “God bless Brittany ... Thinking of your (kids) and family.”
“I wanted to do something. It breaks my heart,” Croston said. “I wanted to let her and her family know they’re not forgotten.”
Harvey soon received the message. She was moved to tears when she walked to the corner to look at the flowers left for her daughter.
By Randy Ludlow - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT) Dispatch Reporter Jim Woods contributed to this story.
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