Jeff Miraldi enters for preliminary hearing at Elyria Municipal Court Feb. 8.
STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE FILE Enlarge
ELYRIA — Two people pleaded guilty Monday to charges in connection to the January shooting death of 19-year-old Cody Snyder.
Jeffrey Miraldi, 21, of Elyria, pleaded to involuntary manslaughter, trafficking in drugs, multiple counts of tampering with evidence, possession of drugs and permitting drug abuse. The charges Miraldi originally was indicted on included a three-year firearms specifications, but those specifications were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Jenna Turner, 20, of Middleburg Heights, whose trial on the matter had been scheduled to begin Monday, pleaded guilty to three counts of tampering with evidence, but the firearms specifications attached to the counts also were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
According to Miraldi’s defense attorney Mike Duff, there is no agreed-upon sentence, but Miraldi likely is to be sentenced to four years in prison with the possibility of judicial release after three years.
“He gets three years on the involuntary (manslaughter),” Duff said. “Then he gets a one-year gun spec, instead of the three-year gun spec. That’s an aggregate sentence of four (years). He’s eligible for judicial release after he did his three, but the judge made it clear that there’s no promise he’ll release him after he does three years and six months, but he would be eligible for it, and the judge would consider it.”
There is no mandatory prison sentence for the charges Turner pleaded guilty to, and she could receive community control sanctions.
A sentencing date for both Miraldi and Turner has not yet been set, according to court documents.
Duff said Miraldi is “going to testify truthfully against any individuals involved” in the death of Snyder.
Police said Miraldi drove a 2014 Ford Focus to Clinton Avenue, with Turner and Snyder as passengers, to an alleged drug deal. The three planned to sell a half pound of marijuana to Qwanda Woodson, 17, of Elyria, and Justin Smith, 18, of Oberlin, for $1,400, police said.
Smith and Woodson allegedly planned to rob Miraldi, Snyder and Turner with the help of Kajaun Anderson, 19, of Elyria, police said. While the transaction was taking place, Anderson allegedly opened the back door of the vehicle and pointed a gun inside. A confrontation ensued, and Anderson shot Snyder in the chest, police said.
Miraldi drove Snyder to University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center, where Snyder died from his injuries, police said.
In addition to the gun police said Anderson used to shoot Snyder, there was another gun at the scene of the shooting, one acquired by Miraldi, according to police. One of Miraldi’s tampering with evidence charges stemmed from him disposing of the firearm after Snyder died, police said.
The car Miraldi was driving during the incident was registered to his father, Lorain County Common Pleas Court Judge John Miraldi.
The elder Miraldi is not under investigation, but his son’s involvement prompted a call for a special prosecutor to handle the case as well as a visiting judge. Judge Robert Brown is retired from the bench in Wayne County.
Special prosecutors from Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office were brought in to handle the case as well.
While Turner was scheduled to appear in court Monday, the younger Miraldi was not. Duff said he’d talked with the prosecutors, who wanted to sit down and talk, which turned into a “kind of informal pretrial” that resulted in the plea agreement.
“We’ve been researching the legal issues involved,” Duff said. “We reached a conclusion that was in his best interest to enter a plea. The prosecutors were very cooperative in that regard, so we could work it out.”
A spokesperson from DeWine’s office said the negotiations on the possible plea took place late last week and may have even continued into the weekend. Before the plea agreement was made, the prosecutors got the consent of Snyder’s family and law enforcement, the spokesperson said.
Woodson and Smith pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the case in July and have agreed to turn state’s evidence against Anderson. They are awaiting sentencing, which will take place after Anderson’s trial, which is set for December.
All of the charges against Woodson and Smith include firearm specifications, meaning each will face at least six years and up to 11 years in prison.
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