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Third accomplice arrested in attempted murder case

Cary Ashby • May 22, 2013 at 11:03 PM

A third attempted murder accomplice accused of hiding her boyfriend -- one of her co-defendants -- in her apartment was arrested Monday.

A Huron County sheriff's deputy placed Brianna M. Boonie, 18, of 154 Hamilton St., Apt. 212, Bellevue, in handcuffs just outside the main courtroom in Huron County Common Pleas Court. The woman cried quietly after having been served with a secret indictment, which was issued by a grand jury Friday.

Boonie, who had been sitting in the courtroom before her arrest, is charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder or murder, a first-degree felony, and obstructing justice, a third-degree felony, both in connection with an April 21 incident.

"This is a very serious incident in which a young man was beaten -- almost to death. He presently is in a rehab facility in Dayton," Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said.

Boonie looked for the weapon for the attack and hid "the main perpetrator in her apartment," he said.

John Allton, who has been appointed to represent the suspect, said he knows very little about the case, but said that Boonie, mother of an 8-month-old child, had minimal involvement.

"The incident took place a month ago and she's been in the area," Allton said.

Boonie entered "not guilty" pleas to each of her charges. Judge Jim Conway followed Leffler's recommendation and set her bond at $75,000 bond.

Also arraigned Monday was Boonie's boyfriend, Connor C.D. Holbrook, 19, of 840 Kilbourne St., Bellevue. He is charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder or murder, attempted murder and obstructing justice. He also faces two charges of felonious assault.

"Boonie is Mr. Holbrook's girlfriend. She was present at the time of the beating," Leffler said.

"They both were cooperative with police," said Holbrook's defense attorney, Ed Rhode.

"He never held the weapon. He didn't know about the weapon," he told the judge.

Rhode, when arguing about a lower bond than the state's request of $100,000, referred to Holbrook as a "peaceful, law-abiding child." The defense attorney said Holbrook has "behaved himself well" since he's been in jail for the last 29 days.

"He's not some kind of criminal mastermind," said Rhode, who denied his client was the driver of the Ford Ranger.

Leffler disagreed with Rhode's assessment of the case.

"He (Holbrook) did drive the vehicle to the crime scene," said Leffler, who further accused Holbrook of knowing about the crowbar used to attack the victim. "He was involved from the get-go."

The victim, Austin D. Thornton, 19, of St. Paris, was hit over the head with a crowbar.

"I've heard many stories about the victim. He got hit twice -- once in the head and once in the leg," Rhode said.

He first went to Willard Mercy Hospital and then was transported to the neuro-intensive care unit of Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo.

For a period of time, Thornton was in critical condition. Assistant Prosecutor Richard Woodruff said Friday the victim is "out of the woods" and is expected to live.

Also arraigned Monday was Tyler G. Smith, 19, of 223 Hamilton St., Bellevue. He is charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder or murder, attempted murder and tampering with evidence, plus two charges of felonious assault.

The judge set Smith's bond at $500,000. Huron County Public Defender David Longo, who presided over the defendant's arraignment on behalf of Tom Nicholson, said a bond of $100,000 or $150,000 would be more appropriate since Thornton hasn't died and this was a "crime of passion."

Leffler said the three cases can't be tried together because of the "different statements" given by the defendants.

Smith told investigators the assault "was precipitated by text, phone and electronic messages that exchanged between himself and others," according to a search warrant.

The three suspected accomplices have trials set for July 16.

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