4 cases raise electronic monitoring concerns before accused sex offender flees trial

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Judge Erik Blaine reconvenes court after Justin Smith potentially cut his electronic monitoring device and did not show up for closing arguments in his trial after he testified in his own defense.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Five months before accused child sex offender Justin K. Smith disabled his electronic monitoring ankle bracelet near the end of his trial Wednesday, Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. expressedhad concerns about the program.

In May, Heck sent local judges a link to a national TV news magazine show that claimed 50 murders been committed from 2012 until the show aired by people who had been ordered to wear electronic monitoring devices.

“My concern is that EHDP is sometimes used in lieu of a sufficiently high bond for violent offenders,” Heck said in an exclusive response to this news organization. “No EHDP is foolproof, as has been seen in our county and across the nation. Ankle monitors have been removed, and the offender has committed additional, violent crimes, including murder.

“When an offender violates EHDP, we believe there needs to be immediate action taken to notify law enforcement and my office, not only to locate the offender but to ensure the victim and witnesses are safe. Once an offender has demonstrated they are a flight risk, an offender’s bond should obviously be increased.”

Smith’s bench trial on eight counts involving sex crimes against a 14-year-old girl on the Germantown soccer team he coached ended Wednesday. Smith, 41, testified in the morning and didn’t return after lunch.

>>RELATED: Soccer coach still missing after not returning to his trial

Pre-trial services said Smith’s ankle bracelet last gave a signal around noon Wednesday near Franklin. Closing arguments were held Wednesday afternoon, and Judge Erik Blaine said he would let the parties know when he reached a verdict.

The email to judges also included local examples of “disastrous results” involving defendants on the electronic home detention program (EHDP). They included:

In 1999, Peter Atakpu disconnected his monitoring device and pre-trial services employees failed to notice a faxed report or pager notification from the monitoring company. Less than two weeks later, Atakpu killed Byron Kennerly and shot at four others in Dayton.

In 2000, Larry Gapen had work-release privileges after tying up his estranged wife Martha Madewell. Officials learned later Gapen had another person drive his FedEx route and that he visited Madewell and her children. Less than three months later, Gapen killed Madewell, Nathan Marshall and Jessica Young in a Dayton home with a splitting maul during work-release hours.

>>RELATED: Smith admits to sexual contact with teen, fails to return to court

In 2017, James Banks was shot and killed in Dayton while on EHDP from juvenile court. Banks had been outside his house carrying the monitoring portion that was to be inside the house. Banks died when a person he was to sell a gun to shot him.

In July 2018, Travion Montgomery was released on EHDP. On Aug. 2, he cut off the device and pre-trial services got a message, but that was not relayed to law enforcement or the prosecutor’s office. After a stay in a hospital, Montgomery was not taken to jail. On Aug. 31 in Dayton, Montgomery “chokes out” a victim who was on life support, according to the email.

>>RELATED: Dayton man charged in woman’s brutal beating had slipped ankle monitor

In Dayton’s U.S. District Court, Magistrate Judge Michael Newman recently denied EHDP for Beavercreek teen Naser Almadaoji, who is accused of trying to join an arm of ISIS. Newman specifically mentioned the chance an ankle bracelet could be cut off as a reason in granting prosecutors’ motion for detention.

In 2008, a defense contractor accused in bribery scheme cut off a wrist bracelet and fled from Las Vegas to Mexico, then Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and his native Turkey with a fake passport.

Metin Atilan also traveled to Lebanon and Iraq, where he was arrested and returned to the United States in 2014. Atilan was later tried and convicted in Dayton’s U.S. District Court.

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