The 15-year-old who grabbed $23 from the pockets of a Hilltop man killed by an accomplice’s punch admitted to a delinquency count of involuntary manslaughter yesterday.
Elijah Nichols now could face three years in lockup at the Department of Youth Services.
Also yesterday, Franklin County Juvenile Court Judge Chris Geer sent one of Nichols’ co-defendants, Joshua Conley, to Youth Services for at least a year. Conley, 14, had earlier admitted to a delinquency count of involuntary manslaughter.
Nichols and Conley were with Douglas Bailey, 13, and Emanuel Jackson, 18, the night of Sept. 1, when police say Jackson led them in the attack on Terry Ward, 43.
Police say Jackson admitted to throwing the punch and robbing Ward. But last month, Jackson was ruled incompetent to stand trial. He is in a mental-health center receiving treatment. Authorities hope to try him later this year.
A surveillance camera from a nearby bar showed the four chase Ward behind the Lutheran Social Services food pantry on Sullivant and Oakley avenues. Jackson threw a punch and Ward dropped, hitting his head on the pavement, police said. The Franklin County coroner said Ward died of brain injuries.
In court yesterday, Ward’s wife, Kimberly, told Conley that her 3-year-old son Dylan still wonders when his daddy is coming home. "Now, Dylan and I have to live without this man we loved so deeply."
Ward’s sister, Diane Brewer, told Conley she talks to her brother at his headstone. "I hope you never know what that’s like." She thanked Conley’s parents for having him turn himself in when they recognized his clothing on the videotape of the attack shown on TV. Brewer then angrily made disparaging remarks about the four involved in her brother’s death.
Ward’s relatives will have a chance to speak again at Nichols’ sentencing, set for March 9. Nichols’ attorney and prosecutors are recommending he serve at least three years at Youth Services. Nichols’ parents also recognized him from the videotape and had him turn himself in.
Bailey, 13, who pleaded to a delinquency count of felonious assault, has yet to be sentenced. Prosecutors have recommended he be placed on probation.