Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Seminar set on double murder
Another seminar will deal with vehicle accident investigations.
By ED RUNYAN
WARREN The murder trial of Jermaine "Maniac" McKinney held in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court in late 2006 drew widespread attention because of McKinney's knowledge of forensic evidence and his attempt to destroy it to avoid prosecution.
Press coverage of the Newton Township double murder spread well beyond the Mahoning Valley, especially when the British Broadcasting Corp. of London came to Trumbull County and filmed a segment that aired in Europe last May.
Now Dennis Watkins, Trumbull County's prosecutor, and Brenda Gerardi, a forensic scientist at the Richfield office of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, will give a seminar on the successful investigation and prosecution of McKinney's crimes.
The seminar will be part of the 27th annual Probate Practice Seminar to be held Oct. 5 at the Holiday Inn MetroPlex in Girard. The seminar, aimed at legal and medical practitioners, is sponsored by Judge Thomas A. Swift of Trumbull County Probate Court.
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul E. Pfeiffer will be the keynote speaker.
McKinney, 27, of Youngstown, is serving two life sentences without parole in Mansfield Correctional Institution for the murder of Wanda Rollyson, 70, and her daughter Rebecca Cliburn, 45, in Rollyson's home Dec. 21, 2005.
Watkins said the presentation will be a case study called "CSI vs. the 'Maniac' McKinney" and will include a showing of the 12-minute BCC segment.
The seminar will focus on the way that McKinney, a fan of the "CSI" (crime scene investigation) television shows and such networks as the History Channel and Discovery, tried to cover up the murders.
Watkins said McKinney was an unusually smart murderer, having graduated from high school and earned good grades while a student at Trumbull Business College in Howland. But McKinney made serious mistakes, Watkins said.
For example, he put flammable liquids on the bodies and moved them close to a large drum that probably appeared to be full of heating oil. He set a fire after that, but the drum was empty, so the explosion he probably anticipated did not occur, Watkins said.
McKinney smoked cigarettes and attempted to remove them before he left Rollyson's house, but he missed one.
Also, McKinney attempted to dispose of bloody boots and a crow bar used in the crimes in McKelvey Lake in Youngstown, but the objects did not fall through the ice and were retrieved by Youngstown police a day later, Watkins noted.
Gerardi testified at McKinney's trial, saying the bloody boots contained DNA from McKinney, Rollyson and Cliburn.
"The bottom line is that the most perfect plan goes awry," Watkins said.
Traffic accident seminar
Watkins noted that his office is also presenting a seminar for police officers Sept. 18 at Avalon Inn in Howland focusing on motor vehicle accident reconstruction and traffic fatality cases.
Watkins first noted the need for training in vehicle accident investigations after Annie Lee of Howland was paralyzed in a hit-and-run accident at U.S. Route 422 and North Road in 2004. The girl died last October. Irving Russ of Warren was sentenced to 10 years in prison earlier this year for leaving the scene of the accident and tampering with evidence.
Among the speakers will be Charles E. Veppert, a crash reconstructionist from Columbia Station, Ohio, and former lieutenant at the Ohio State Highway Patrol barracks in Warren.
Watkins said his office has sponsored seminars in the past on such topics as homicide, child assaults and forensic evidence.