The answer to the question of whether someone can be prosecuted for obstructing justice when the person they are accused of helping is acquitted is: no.

Patricia Cosgrove, a visiting judge in Summit County Common Pleas Court, dismissed obstruction charges against Akiria Taylor on Monday afternoon. Antonio Parra, Taylor’s boyfriend, was found not guilty of murder in a January 2017 shooting death in Barberton.

“Obstruction flows from the assistance or conduct in reference to the murder charge,” Cosgrove said. “Parra was found not guilty by a jury. Hence, there’s nothing to obstruct.”

The Summit County Prosecutor’s Office, which fought the dismissal, has 30 days to appeal Cosgrove’s decision.

Taylor, 26, of Cleveland, was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice, a third-degree felony. She was accused of driving Parra away from the shooting scene.

The case took an unusual turn when Taylor pleaded guilty, but then, after Parra’s acquittal on the murder charge in October, requested to withdraw her plea. Judge Joy Oldfield granted her request.

Erik Jones, Taylor’s attorney, then requested that Taylor’s case be dismissed. Jones, in a brief filed with the court, said the 9th District Court of Appeals has found that obstruction “cannot be committed without the commission of the underlying crime by another.” He highlighted several cases and said the prosecution “is incapable of proving beyond a reasonable doubt her guilt.”

Assistant Prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel, however, countered that the statute “does not require conviction of the person being legally assisted for an underlying offense.”

Cosgrove said Monday that she was persuaded by the cases Jones pointed to and his argument. She said there was probable cause that Taylor had committed obstruction when she was indicted, but this disappeared when a jury found Parra not guilty.

Jones said after the hearing that he and his client were both pleased. He plans to wait to see if the prosecutor appeals, and, if this doesn’t happen, will file a request for Taylor’s case to be sealed and expunged. He noted that Taylor has no criminal record.

A jury found that Parra, 28, of Warrensville Heights, acted in self-defense in the Jan. 14, 2017, shooting death of Justin Randle, 27, outside of a Barberton apartment. Parra was, however, convicted of two weapons charges and sentenced to three years in prison.

Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or swarsmith@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow on Twitter: @swarsmithabj and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/swarsmith.