Lima man gets 8 years for cocaine trafficking

LIMA — A Lima man convicted of drug-related crimes following a controversial jury trial will spend at least eight years in prison after a Monday morning hearing.

Anthony Brown, Jr., 32, was convicted of two counts of first-degree felony cocaine trafficking, one of which was in the vicinity of a juvenile; fifth-degree felony aggravated drug possession and third-degree felony tampering with evidence, by a jury on April 14.

According to the indictment, Brown sold or offered to sell at least 20 grams of cocaine to a confidential police informant on May 18, 2020, and again on May 26, 2020 — this time at least 27 grams of the drug. He was convicted of having oxycodone and tampering with evidence on May 29, 2020.

Brown’s case was continued numerous times, and attorney Kenneth Rexford requested a new trial after defense witness Hunter Doenges was convicted of perjury for lies told during the trial and Brown’s trial attorney died.

Brown’s conviction was called into question when it was alleged that his attorney, Denise Demmitt, was under the influence of alcohol during portions of the trial.

Cleveland-area attorney Demmitt died by suicide some two weeks after the conclusion of the trial. Demmitt’s body was discovered by officers of the Lakewood Police Department on April 22 during a welfare check. According to the Cuyahoga County decedent registry, Demmitt, 54, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Rexford, who took over Brown’s case after Demmitt’s death, said questions about her handling of the case were raised by the Brown family even before the attorney’s death. Excessive alcohol use by Demmitt during the trial had been brought to the attention of the court, Rexford said.

In a filing late last month Rexford said he had also unearthed a “major problem” with the recording of some proceedings during Brown’s case. Rexford said it appears that “almost all, if not all sidebar conferences and in-chambers meetings” are unavailable for transcription.

The motion for a new trial was denied, as was Rexford’s Monday request to allow Brown out on appellate bond preceding an appeal of his conviction and sentence.

Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Mariah Cunningham said on Monday Brown put juveniles in his home at risk by conducting drug sales with a confidential informant whom he didn’t know.

Rexford said that Brown believed throughout the deals that he was selling “fake dope” and his actions were not part of a drug trafficking ring. He said there were numerous issues with the case, including one that led to Brown’s arrest after Demmitt forgot to inform him of a court appearance.

“In just about every aspect of this case, something went wrong,” Rexford said.

Brown asked Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Terri Kohlrieser for “compassion” in his sentencing so he can participate in his baby’s life.

“I am not a troublemaker; I’m just a man who made mistakes,” Brown said.

Kohlrieser ordered a $20,000 bond in addition to Brown’s sentence. He could spend up to 12 years in prison depending on his behavior while incarcerated.

Brown will receive 52 days of jail time credit. He has 30 days to file an appeal.