Though Eric Hendon was already convicted for a triple murder in Barberton, the issue of how the surviving victim was treated during his trial is still being debated in court.

Elizabeth Well, the attorney for the lone survivor in the New Year’s Eve 2013 shooting rampage that landed Hendon in prison, argued Tuesday before the 9th District Court of Appeals the importance of privacy for Ronda Blankenship and other crime victims.

Blankenship was shot in the face during the New Year’s Eve 2013 shooting rampage that landed Hendon in prison.

She was required during Hendon’s trial earlier this year to turn over to the trial court a wealth of personal information, including her medical and psychological records, cellphone, laptop and Facebook and email passwords. Well argues this information shouldn’t have been provided without giving Blankenship the chance to challenge its release in court.

Well works for the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center, a Columbus-based nonprofit that provides legal help to crime victims.

Appellate Judges Beth Whitmore, Donna Carr and Julie Schafer heard the case, with Carr asking most of the questions and focusing on what had happened with the lower court case. She also noted the unique nature of the case.

“I’ve never seen a case like this in 20 years on the bench,” she said.

Well’s main legal objection was that the records were sought from Blankenship through discovery rather than by subpoena. If they had been subpoenaed, Blankenship could have challenged their release and had a hearing. She said the release of the records violated attorney-client privilege, doctor-patient privilege and Blankenship’s privacy rights.

“In this case, the trial court circumvented the criminal rules and violated our client’s constitutional rights,” Well said.

Hendon, 33, faced the death penalty but was sentenced to life without parole in May after being convicted in a jury trial of aggravated murder and other charges stemming from the shooting deaths of John Kohler, 42; his son, David Carpenter-Kohler, 14; and David’s sister, Ashley Carpenter, 18; and the attempted murder of Blankenship, Kohler’s girlfriend.

Michael Hendon, 24, Eric’s younger brother, was convicted last year of complicity to commit aggravated murder. He also was sentenced to life without parole.

Don Malarcik and Brian Pierce, Eric Hendon’s attorneys, were prohibited from arguing before the appellate court because they failed to file a response to Well’s brief. Malarcik said he and Pierce were in the middle of Hendon’s trial and were too busy to write a brief, but did submit motions to the court that they thought made their position clear.

Malarcik thinks the issue of Blankenship’s records is moot because Blankenship provided them for an “in-camera” — or private — inspection by Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Amy Corrigall Jones during Hendon’s trial. He said Jones gave the attorneys some of the medical and psychological records, but none of the computer information.

“It’s nonsense,” Malarcik said. “It’s a ridiculous argument.”

Well and Cathy Harper Lee, head of the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center, however, argue the outcome of this case could have statewide ramifications for crime victims. If Blankenship loses, the case will be appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.

“Clearly, this crossed a line for what victims are required to provide in discovery,” Lee said.

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh, who isn’t involved in the Blankenship appeal, showed her support for Blankenship’s plight Wednesday by attending the hearing, along with a large contingent from her office.

“Ronda survived Hendon’s brutal attack and her personal privacy did not need to be invaded by Hendon’s lawyers,” Walsh said in an emailed statement.

Blankenship didn’t attend the hearing, but Well said she is very interested in the case.

“She is hoping for a positive outcome,” Well said.

Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, swarsmith@thebeaconjournal.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.