A woman accused of being involved in a home invasion has been released on the felony charges.
New London resident Brittany N. Fernekees, 23, was charged with complicity to robbery and complicity to burglary.
However, Norwalk Municipal Court Judge John Ridge ruled Tuesday "the defendant is discharged on those cases." Huron County Jail records indicate Fernekees was released from custody after the hearing based on the court order.
(NOTE - To see pictures of Tuesday's court hearings involving the four defendants, click HERE.)
Ridge made his ruling after hearing evidence from the suspected victim and two sheriff's investigators during a lengthy preliminary hearing Tuesday. The case is about a March 1 home invasion at a Fitchville Township residence.
While Ridge said an investigation might reveal more information about Fernekees, "the court finds no probable cause on those cases." The judge also said testimony showed Fernekees went to the residence to pick up a computer, attempted to get $40 the victim reportedly owed her and "attempted to prevent the (victim's) cousin from being injured."
The male victim accused Jeremy M. Sax of repeatedly hitting him with a black handgun while Larry W. Thornsberry grabbed him from behind in a choke hold. The victim testified the assault ended "after about 10 to 15 minutes."
Authorities said Sax is Fernekees' current boyfriend.
"I went to Fisher-Titus (Medical Center) and had staples put in my head," said the victim, who had dated Fernekees "on and off for about five years."
During the assault, the victim said Fernekees went upstairs "with my little cousin" and kept anybody from coming downstairs to avoid being injured.
"My little cousin didn't even know there was a gun involved at first," the man said. "Brittany yelled, 'He's just a kid. He's just a kid.'
"My cousin came down and got the gun put on him and got thrown on the floor," the victim said.
Authorities later determined the weapon is a toy gun, believed to be an Airsoft pellet gun.
A Huron County Sheriff's Office search team found the evidence inside a sock under a bridge on Jennings Road, adjacent to the Fitchville Conservation Club. The discovery happened March 8 after seven officers combed the area for two days.
Sgt. Chuck Summers, who interviewed Fernekees, testified on behalf of the state. Summers said the woman "went upstairs to keep people from coming downstairs -- to keep them from being involved."
The victim said he originally let Fernekees into the residence when she showed up there to discuss $40 and a computer he reportedly owed her. The victim, who closed the door behind Fernekees, said Sax and Thornsberry entered the home uninvited about two minutes later.
"He said, 'I bet you never thought this would happen to you,'" the victim said, reportedly quoting Sax. "I told them to get out as soon as they came (in)."
Norwalk Assistant Law Director Scott Christophel asked the victim about Treva M. Campbell's involvement.
"She came in at the end," the man said. "She told me to give up everything and it will all stop and be over with."
Fernekees' defense attorney, Paul Dolce, said the state failed to meet its burden of proof that his client "aided and abetted" in the incident.
"The testimony was she was upstairs during the robbery," Dolce said.
Attorneys asked the man how he knew Fernekees.
"I dated her for a long time," said the victim, who broke up with Fernekees after being convicted of two counts each trafficking in heroin and theft. "It was on and off for about five years."
Summers said the victim reported being assaulted by someone named "Kasper and another man." The victim testified he didn't know the other three suspects except for Fernekees.
On the left side of Sax's neck under his ear is a tattoo of Casper the Friendly Ghost smoking a cigarette.
At the base of the suspect's neck, the same character peeks over what appears to be a chain. Between the chain and ghost is the name "Kasper," clearly spelled with a "K" in letters similar to those associated with the cartoon character.
Christophel said the home invasion appeared to be planned.
"Ms. Fernekees admitted she was there," said the prosecutor, who added that Fernekees attempted to hold other people back from coming to the victim's aid.
After hearing the evidence and arguments from attorneys, the court ruled there was there was probable cause a crime had been committed. Ridge then said the cases against Sax, Thornsberry and Campbell would be transferred to Huron County Common Pleas Court for a possible grand jury indictment.
"Whatever happens at a preliminary hearing is without prejudice," Christophel said Wednesday.
The prosecutor said that means all the suspects could be indicted on the same charges or more serious charges.
Sax, 34, and Thornsberry, 35, currently are charged with one count each of robbery and burglary. Campbell, 30, is facing one charge each of complicity to robbery and complicity to burglary.
Deputies arrested the four suspects March 2 at an Ohio 13 residence in Greenwich Township.