Note: This story appears in the Tuesday, June 11 newspaper on Page A3.
A judge has ruled that all the charges against Neil Perin of Athens can be heard by the same jury at the same time.
Perin faces 29 charges in Athens County Common Pleas Court, with nearly all the charges involving allegations in which his wife and/or children are victims. A conspiracy charge alleges that Perin, 35, tried to get a jail inmate to kill Perin’s wife.
Perin came to public attention in April 2018 when he left Athens with his three children (one is not his biological child) after allegedly hitting and choking his wife, resulting in an Amber Alert being issued for the children. He was arrested in Cleveland, where the children — an infant and children ages 4 and 2 — were found unharmed.
The Messenger reported this past February that Perin’s attorney had filed a motion requesting that not all of the 29 charges go to trial at the same time, arguing that many of the charges allege distinct acts at different times and at different locations.
“It is extremely difficult to imagine how some of these offenses are part of the same act or transaction or connected together in any matter whatsoever,” defense attorney Joseph Landusky wrote. “How can the alleged rape of the defendant’s wife (by Perin) in November of 2017 be connected to the alleged kidnapping of the defendant’s own children on April 25, 2018?”
He argued that a single trial would result in prejudice against Perin.
The prosecution opposed the defense motion.
Last month, Judge George McCarthy denied the request for more than one trial.
According to the ruling, prosecutors had asserted all the counts are part of Perin’s alleged continuous course of criminal conduct in various forms including abuse, manipulation, coercion, and threatening to take their children from his wife to control her behavior, to keep her in indentured servitude and secure sexual relations.
The judge ruled that the counts are based on alleged acts or transactions connected together or constituting part of a common scheme or plan, and are part of an alleged course of criminal conduct.
“The court also finds that a jury would not be misled or confused by all counts being presented to them,” McCarthy wrote. “The court concludes that defendant would not be adversely prejudiced by failing to grant his request for severance.”
Also, McCarthy wrote that after all the evidence is presented at trial, he can instruct the jury in a way to avert any perceived prejudice.
In addition to the rape charge and conspiracy charge, Perin faces two counts each of domestic violence and abduction, seven counts of kidnapping, four charges of intimidation, eight counts of endangering children and one count each of disrupting a public service, receiving stolen property, tampering with evidence and trafficking in persons.
His trial is currently scheduled for Sept. 23.