Prosecutors appeal dismissal of man’s charges

CORTLAND – The case of a 21-year-old city man accused of misdemeanor child enticement is being appealed to the 11th District Court of Appeals.

Eastern District Judge Robert Platt dismissed the charge against Zachary A. Weiner in April, noting in his decision that there were constitutional issues surrounding the case.

Weiner, of Stahl Avenue, is accused of asking two young girls to follow him into a wooded area last summer. Cortland police arrested him on a child enticement charge.

At least two cases elsewhere in the state are being appealed for constitutionally vague language in the first-degree misdemeanor, according to assistant county prosecutor Deena DeVico. She said this case, plus the two in Akron and Dayton area municipal courts, could wind up in the Ohio Supreme Court.

In the Akron case, the 9th District Court of Appeals threw out a conviction in February because the law failed to include a provision that the solicitation be made with criminal intent.

In the Cortland case, Weiner and a second suspects have identifiable emotional and mental disabilities and no prior criminal history, according to investigators. Cortland Detective Dave Morris said at the time that all accounts of events matched, and the suspects claimed they had no ill intent in attempting to convince the girls to go with them.

Co-defendant Jheri Marie Woods, 18, of Youngstown, chose to plead no contest to complicity of the same charge in February and was found guilty by Central District Judge Thomas Campbell. She was fined $250, placed on one-year reporting probation and given 40 hours of community service to perform in lieu of 10 days in jail.

Weiner and Woods, who were classmates at Trumbull County Career and Technical Center, were charged in August with attempting to lure two girls, ages 11 and 12, into a wooded ravine along Walnut Run Creek from a South High Street business.

The girls were approached and questioned by two adults and were urged to follow them into the woods because they ”had something to show them,” according to police reports.

Cortland police Chief Tom Andrews said the two suspects were brought to the police station by their parents, who had read an article in the Tribune Chronicle. The parents and grandparents had questioned Woods and Weiner about possible involvement.

Woods’ father said he is convinced there was no sexual motivation in the asking the kids to view something in the woods.