Lima teen charged in armed robberies waives right to jury trial

J Swygart, The Lima News, Ohio
·2 min read

Apr. 20—LIMA — A trial is scheduled in Allen County Common Pleas Court beginning Monday for a Lima teenager who police and prosecutors say was one of two juveniles who took part in armed robberies more than a year ago at Little Caesar's pizza and Hermie's Party Shop in Lima.

No potential jurors will be summoned for the trial, however, after Juan Freeman II on Tuesday waived his constitutional right to have the case heard by a jury of 12 of his peers. Judge Terri Kohlrieser will hear the trial to the court, and she alone will determine Freeman's fate.

Freeman is charged with three counts of aggravated robbery with firearm specifications. He and Na'zier Howard, both of whom were 17 years old at the time of the Jan. 14, 2020, armed robberies, were indicted by the July 2020 session of the grand jury in connection with the pizza and convenience store hold-ups.

A jury trial for Na'zier Howard has been scheduled for July.

Freeman appeared in Allen County Common Pleas with a new attorney in late February after spending a portion of his 18th birthday on Jan. 4 of this year in the same courtroom. At that time he asked Judge Terri Kohlrieser to appoint new legal counsel to defend him after he and former court-appointed attorney Bill Kluge agreed their working relationship had deteriorated beyond repair.

At that February hearing, with attorney Marcus Moll taking over as the teenager's court-appointed counsel, prosecutors gave Freeman one week to ponder a plea deal that expired March 5. The prosecutor's offer, which called for the teenager to spend 14 years in prison, was not accepted.

Freeman also could face an additional charge of escape. While awaiting trial as an adult, Freeman escaped from custody of the Allen County Juvenile Detention Center on the evening of Oct. 25 after being transported to the emergency department at Mercy Health-St. Rita's Medical Center. Freeman was not immediately located but was apprehended six weeks later in Waterloo, Iowa.