Prison ordered for Lima man who lied during drug trial

·3 min read

Sep. 8—LIMA — A Lima man who provided false testimony in the drug trafficking trial earlier this year of Anthony Brown was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in prison for his lies while on the witness stand.

Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Terri Kohlrieser sentenced Hunter Doenges, 21, for intentionally attempting to mislead jurors about his role in a confidential informant's undercover drug purchase that led to Brown's arrest by the West Central Ohio Crime Task Force.

Doenges testified that he was present during the drug transaction, but the evidence presented at trial — including phone records and text messages between Doenges and Brown — showed that he was at the location when the drug sale went down. Doenges said during Thursday's hearing that Brown's supporters had instructed him how to testify.

Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Mariah Cunningham said that Doenges, in statements made to writers of a pre-sentence investigation, "takes no responsibility for his actions and does not admit or deny the accusations. He said he was doing meth at the time."

Doenges waived arraignment and pleaded guilty in July to a third-degree felony charge of perjury contained in a Bill of Information. Attorney Steve Chamberlain of the Allen County Public Defenders Office said his client, after spending the past 114 days in the county jail, "now understands that decisions have consequences."

Kohlrieser said a sentence of community control would demean the seriousness of Doenges' offenses.

"This court cannot allow someone to come into a place that is designed to seek the truth and justice and lie under oath. That is one of the most egregious offenses to the public," the judge said. "What Mr. Doenges decided to do has placed this case in an utter tailspin."

In addition to the lies of a key witness in Brown's three-day trial, which ended April 14 with convictions on two counts of trafficking in cocaine and single counts of tampering with evidence and the aggravated possession of drugs, Brown's conviction was called into question when it was alleged that his attorney was under the influence of alcohol during portions of the trial.

Cleveland-area attorney Denise Demmitt died by suicide some two weeks after the conclusion of Brown's trial. Demmitt's body was discovered by officers of the Lakewood Police Department on April 22 during a welfare check. The Cuyahoga County decedent registry said Demmitt, 54, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Lima Attorney Kenneth Rexford, who took over Brown's case after Demmitt's death, said questions about her handling of the case were raised by the Brown family even before the attorney's death. Excessive alcohol use by Demmitt during the trial had been brought to the attention of the court, Rexford said.

In a filing late last month Rexford said he had also unearthed a "major problem" with the recording of some proceedings during Brown's case. Rexford said it appears that "almost all if not all sidebar conferences and in-chambers meetings" are unavailable for transcription.

Coupled with Demmitt's alleged alcohol consumption during the trial and the lies of Doenges from the witness stand, Rexford concluded that Brown's case is in "serious jeopardy" of requiring a new trial.