Tuesday, December 18, 2018 Elyria 34°

Cops and Courts

Attorney says women in Gibson's case were trying to help friend; trial date set


OBERLIN — Two women charged with assault were just trying to help their friend when they saw him running out of Gibson’s Bakery in November, their attorney said Wednesday following a pretrial in Oberlin Municipal Court.

“They saw a friend involved in an incident and decided they were justified in trying to help a friend,” attorney Jack Bradley said. “That’s all they did.”

A jury trial is scheduled April 24 for Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone, who police said had a hand in beating up Allyn Gibson, whose family owns the bakery, after he chased alleged shoplifter Jonathan Aladin out of his store.

According to police, Aladin, 19, allegedly tried to buy a bottle of wine at Gibson’s Bakery while also concealing two bottles of wine under his shirt. After Allyn Gibson refused to sell him the wine, he confronted Aladin about the bottles of wine he suspected the Oberlin College student of trying to steal.

Aladin then allegedly slapped Gibson’s phone out of his hand, causing it to strike his face and then took off running, breaking two bottles of wine on his way out, police said.

Gibson pursued him out the door and across the street, where there was a physical confrontation. When police arrived, they said they saw Gibson, who is white, on the ground with Aladin, Lawrence and Whettstone — all three of whom are black — punching him, the report said.

The incident touched off days of protests and counterprotests in Oberlin.

Aladin’s case has been forwarded to Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will’s office for review when the felony robbery charge he initially faced was dismissed by prosecutors after Oberlin Municipal Court Judge Thomas Januzzi rejected a plea deal.

Oberlin Prosecutor Frank Carlson presented a plea deal to Januzzi in which Aladin would have pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted theft, a misdemeanor, but Januzzi rejected it.

Bradley said Carlson won’t present a plea deal for the women because Januzzi rejected the deal for Aladin.

“He feels that all the students should be treated the same,” Bradley said.

Carlson didn’t return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Contact Jodi Weinberger at 329-7245 or jweinberger@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jodi_Weinberger.

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