The 15-year-old co-defendant charged in the murders of a New Franklin husband and wife had his case transferred to adult court Monday.
Jamall Vaughn, who was barely 14 when he was arrested last year as an alleged accomplice in the slayings, now will stand trial in Summit County Common Pleas Court on aggravated murder charges.
Summit County Juvenile Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio issued the bindover ruling after conducting an “amenability hearing” last week to determine if Vaughn is capable of rehabilitation and treatment in the juvenile system.
In Teodosio’s five-page written decision, she said the overriding factor in transferring the case to the adult system was “the brutal and heinous nature of this crime and the purposefulness with which it was approached.”
Prominent attorney Jeffrey Schobert, 56, and his wife, Margaret “Peg” Schobert, 59, were bludgeoned in the early hours of April 2 inside the master bedroom of their home in the Portage Lakes area of New Franklin.
Autopsy records and juvenile court testimony showed both died from multiple blunt-force blows to the head and that a sledgehammer, and possibly a brick, were used in the attacks.
The indicted principal offender, Shawn Eric Ford Jr., 19, has been in custody at the county jail since the week of the slayings. He is charged with multiple counts of aggravated murder and death penalty specifications.
According to previous court testimony, Ford held a vendetta against the Schoberts and planned and carried out the murders after they blocked him from visiting their youngest daughter in the hospital.
Chelsea Schobert, 18 at the time, had suffered a concussion — allegedly after being attacked by Ford, her former boyfriend — only days before the slayings.
In Monday’s ruling, Teodosio cited a 1989 Ohio Supreme Court decision stating that the “seriousness of the alleged offense” can be used as a decisive factor in transferring a juvenile to the adult system.
Judge: Killing was plan
The judge then noted the alleged actions of Ford and Vaughn and how they got to the Schoberts’ lakeside home several hours before dawn.
“Jamall and his co-offender walked eight miles together. Jamall knew they were walking to the Schobert home for the purpose of killing the Schoberts because they talked about it during the walk,” Teodosio wrote.
Testimony at last week’s hearing showed Ford entered the home first, through a window, and that Vaughn followed him inside.
Jeffrey Schobert was beaten to death moments later. Crime scene evidence showed he probably was asleep in bed when he was attacked, prosecutors said.
Afterward, Vaughn was aware that Ford was texting Margaret Schobert to encourage her to return home from the hospital, and Vaughn then “calmly took a nap while waiting for her,” Teodosio’s ruling stated.
Schobert was ambushed and beaten upon returning home, and Vaughn was present when she was attacked, the judge said.
Teodosio went on to note that Vaughn “assisted Ford as they gathered money and jewelry and left the home in [the] Schoberts’ SUV.”
Judge: ‘Heinous’ offense
The judge concluded by saying that the “heinous nature of the offense demands that a level of security beyond that available in the juvenile system, at least in terms of years, be available to assure community safety. This can only be found in the adult system.”
If Vaughn’s case had remained in juvenile court and he had been convicted, he would have been sent to a state juvenile facility until the age of 21 with a good record there.
Vaughn, who is in custody at the juvenile detention center on Dan Street, has an IQ of 70 with severely deficient skills in reading, math and spelling.
His attorney, Adam VanHo, said at last week’s hearing that Vaughn was not mature enough emotionally, physically or cognitively for transfer to adult court.
“To put him into that prison system,” VanHo said in closing arguments, “is to essentially give him a death sentence.”
VanHo declined to comment on Teodosio’s ruling, citing a court order to refrain from commenting on the cases of Ford and Vaughn.
Under an Ohio Supreme Court decision, prosecutors cannot ask for the death penalty for Vaughn because he is a juvenile.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.