National News

4 Toledo teens face murder charges after sandbag tossed from overpass

Posted December 27, 2017 11:05 a.m. EST

— The loved ones of Marquise Byrd grieve his tragic killing as they prepare for a series of court cases to come.

But for now, they would still like a phone call.

"I would appreciate if [the boys' parents] could at least call my auntie and tell her they're sorry," said Mr. Byrd's cousin, Shaveontae King.

Toledo police said Tuesday they filed murder charges against four teenagers - Pedro Salinas, 13; Sean Carter, 14; Demetrius Wimberly, 14, and William Parker, 15 -- accused of killing Mr. Byrd with a sandbag dropped onto I-75.

An autopsy found Mr. Byrd, 22, of Warren, Mich. suffered blunt-force trauma to the head and neck. He was pronounced dead 8:57 p.m. Friday at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center, according to the Lucas County Coroner's Office.

Mr. Byrd was traveling to meet friends in Toledo. He was engaged and had a 1-year-old son, said Ms. King, 26, of Roseville, Mich.

"Young, energetic, outgoing, lovable. He had a bright smile," Ms. King said while describing Mr. Byrd as like a brother to her.

Officers responded about 10:10 p.m. Dec. 19 to the Indiana Avenue bridge over I-75. A sandbag had smashed through a car's windshield and hit Mr. Byrd in the passenger seat.

Police said the boys were tossing objects from the overpass, and officers saw the teenagers leaving the area after the incident. Each is charged with vehicular vandalism as well.

Ms. King said she has no sympathy for the teenagers. They know right from wrong, and should be charged as adults, she said.

This killing has devastated their family, Ms. King said. She recalled the October killing of a motorist in Genesee County, Michigan, who was struck by a large rock. At the time, Ms. King thought it would never happen to them.

"My auntie has to bury her son. He's gone. He's never coming back," Ms. King said. "She's holding up the best she can."

Lori Olender, deputy chief of the county prosecutor's juvenile division, said she is not seeking to transfer the teenagers' cases to adult jurisdiction. She said she did not wish to put Mr. Byrd's family through the court case with no chance of success.

"These kids have almost no record," Ms. Olender said.

Ms. Olender cited a December, 2016 case in which a 14-year-old Toledo girl was accused of fatally shooting her brother. It was a deliberate act, and she did not stand trial as an adult, Ms. Olender said.

Ohio law allows children as young as 14 to stand trial as adults, but those younger than 16 are discretionary transfers.

Judges in these cases must consider factors including whether the juveniles could rehabilitate by 21 years old, if they used firearms, and whether they are mature enough for the adult system.