Prosecutor looks at changes in wake of murder
Sunday, March 31, 2013 8:02 PM
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - A northwestern Ohio prosecutor is examining what changes her office can make in the aftermath of a failure in the case of a Toledo woman who was gunned down by her former boyfriend.
Jashua Perz of 1145 Kirk St., Maumee, has had several protective orders obtained against him in Lucas County and Monroe County, Michigan.
Although a protection order in Michigan against Jashua Perz was available through a computer database accessible to law enforcement across the country, that information was not part of the case file when an assistant Lucas County prosecutor decided to reduce felony kidnapping charges against Perz to misdemeanor unlawful restraint.The charges stemmed from a September 2012 assault in which Perz held the his former girlfirend, Kaitlin Gerber, in their apartment for sevearl hours, beating her, and telling her he would kill her.
On Sunday, Perz chased down the 20-year-old Gerber and fatally shot her four times in the back inside her car in a Toledo shopping center parking lot. Perz then barricaded himself in a Maumee home and later was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates told The Toledo Blade (http://bit.ly/14D1W5Q) that when the kidnapping charge came up, her assiststants didn't know about a protective order obtained by Perz's stepmother against him for threatening to kill her. In part, that's because they didn't have the proper computer terminal in the domestic violence courtroom at munipal court.
Bates said her office is considering having police detectives in court during felony arraignment hearings to provide information about restraining orders in other states.
"This is something that makes us all wake up and re-evaluate our jobs," she said. "If we can make it better, then we should. We don't want anybody ever again to escape scrutiny."
Bates also considering putting a third, part-time attorney with trial experience in the courtroom to help the assistant proseuctors assinged there. Such a move, she said, would increase scrutiny of cases, especially involving domestic violence.
It's still unclear whether the protective order against Perz was known to the Toledo police detective who investigated the Sept. 7, 2012, assault on Gerber or to the Sylvania prosecutor who handled Perz's violation of a no-contact order with Gerber while he was serving a 180-day sentence in a regional jail for domestic violence.
Perz appeared in Sylvania Municipal Court in February for violating the no-contact order by mailing letters to Gerber from jail.
Sylvania Judge Scott Ramey found Perz guilty of violating the order, but let him out of jail without posting bond and set a sentencing hearing for early May.
Sylvania Law Director Jim Moan, who is investigating the handling of the Perz case in Sylvania Municipal Court, declined to answer questions about whether the judge or others in the court knew about the protective order or that Perz had threatened to kill his stepmother only a few miles away in Lambertville, Mich.
"Our review is ongoing, and to engage in piecemeal release of selected information is ill-advised," Moan said.
The protection order against Perz was one of 857 approved last year in Monroe County Curcuit Court.
In a handwritten plea, Carol Perz wrote that her stepson threatened her in multiple phone messages that he would "take care" of her and "bury" her.
The judge's order was immediate and subsequently sent to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, where it was entered into the national database.
Protective orders are among the factors judges can consider when setting bond or sentencing defendants.
Information from: The Blade, http://www.toledoblade.com/