Kirkersville Murders: 4 probation officers suspended for killer’s early release

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Thomas Hartless ultimately killed three people and himself in Kirkersville.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

UPDATE @ 6:10 p.m. (May 26)

Four probation officers have been suspended for their roles in the early release of the man who killed his ex-girlfriend, her co-worker and the Kirkersville police chief last month.

Thomas Hartless, 43, was released April 12 by the Licking County Probation Department. Following a Licking County Municipal Court investigation four officers were suspended for failure to complete various tasks, this news organization’s media partner 10TV.com (WBNS) in Columbus reported.

EARLIER REPORT (May 18)

The man responsible for the shooting deaths of his ex-girlfriend, her co-worker and the Kirkersville police chief at a nursing home should not have been released early from jail.

The Licking County Probation Department director in Newark released a report today regarding its handling of Thomas Hartless’ case, our news partner 10TV.com (WBNS) in Columbus reported.

Licking County Municipal Court released Hartless, 43, on April 12 after he served 20 days of a 90-day sentence. He pleaded guilty March 23 to misdemeanor domestic violence charges involving three attacks on Medrano — in December, January and March, 10TV.com and the Newark Advocate reported. That decision was made in error, and bypassed established protocol.

"It has been uncommon for our court over the past seven years for early releases to be done on those offenders who have had violent backgrounds," Kevin Saad, director of the Licking County Court Municipal Probation Department wrote.

RELATED: Kirkersville murders: Judge who granted killer’s early release admits ‘mistakes’

The investigative report highlights multiple issues with the handling of the Hartless case, which ultimately led to the May 12 shooting deaths of Medrano, a nurse, nurse's aide Cindy Krantzand Police Chief Eric DiSario at the Pine Kirk Care Center in Kirkersville. Hartless then turned the gun on himself.

RELATED: Kirkersville murders: Coroner releases new information in fatal shootings

Saad also noted that the additional domestic violence charges in January and March were violations of his pretrial probation supervision for the December 2016 offence, but that no actions were taken, the Advocate reported. A probation officer added a condition that Hartless not possess weapons, but no one visited his home to make sure he didn't have them, according to the newspaper.

10tv.com reported that among 13 issues of concern outlined by Saad were:

  • The recommendation to release Hartless was reviewed by the senior probation officer but he wasn't supposed to approve it
  • The weight of an early release fell only on the recommendation of the interviewing probation officer
  • The intensive support probation officer failed to take into account Hartless' record of violence

The probation department is working to make changes to prevent further violence after a domestic violence offender is released from custody, 10tv.com and the Advocate reported. Those changes include:

  • A lethality risk assessment on a victims if the offender is eligible for early release
  • No contact orders to no violent contact orders in every domestic violence case
  • Order domestic violence offenders to complete a domestic violence treatment program and be ordered to not possess weapons
  • Home checks within seven days of release to search for weapons
  • Mandatory GPS monitoring for offenders in appropriate circumstances
  • Continued training for probation officers on risk assessments
  • Mandatory home visits have a violence complaint has been levied against an offender on supervision.

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