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Defendant fails to show up for trial

Aaron Krause • Jun 21, 2014 at 10:07 AM

The trial for the co-defendant of a Sandusky resident who was convicted Wednesday of stealing nine television sets from the Norwalk Walmart was scheduled to begin Thursday.

Except for a reporter covering other hearings, the jury box was empty Thursday, since authorities don't know the whereabouts of the defendant.

Najee M. Louis, of Sandusky, failed to appear for a further final pretrial hearing on June 10 and hasn't shown up in court since.

Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Patrick Hakos said a warrant has been issued for Louis' arrest.

Louis is charged with one count of theft, a fifth-degree felony, in connection with the Dec. 22 incident.

Huron County Court Administrator Linda Stower said even if Louis were found today, court officials would have to re-schedule his trial and notify jury members, so proceedings wouldn't start in the immediate near future.

Hakos said Vanessa Medina, 34, of Sandusky and Louis walked into Walmart and out of the store with the televisions without paying.

On Wednesday, Medina was sentenced to 120 days in jail. She must serve 59 days starting 9 a.m. Oct. 6. Of the 120 days, Medina will serve 60 at the probation department's discretion.

Hakos said Wednesday while this marked Medina's first incident, she has a "very extensive misdemeanor background" involving 13 prior thefts.

"I certainly can't let you go without significant punishment in this case," Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway told Medina. "You've got to serve some time for this. The fact that you keep doing it indicates it's simply a pattern of behavior for you."

Medina can't leave Ohio without her probation officer's permission, must maintain full-time employment, undergo urine analysis, pay a $250 fine and cannot enter any Walmart store.

Huron County Public Defender David Longo told the judge his client's owned up to the offense and he's not trying to excuse her crime.

However, Longo said "she's kind of had a lot of hard knocks," adding she was placed in foster care, lost contact with her birth family and the first 10 years of her life were "very rough."

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