ELYRIA — Convicted killer Daniel Kovarbasich is being given another chance at probation and was removed from house arrest and electronic monitoring on Friday.
Daniel, who turns 18 in October, will receive counseling and will be required to be in his parents’ home in North Ridgeville between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m., a probation official said.
The decision by Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge to remove electronic monitoring came a day after the judge ruled the teen violated his probation for a second time when GPS monitoring showed he left his parents’ home for about a half hour on Aug. 3 and was on the opposite side of the road.
Burge found that Daniel initially violated his probation in January when he had a makeshift weapon in the Lorain County Jail and was overheard talking with another teen about stabbing a guard.
On Friday, Burge transferred Daniel’s probation from the state to the county, where he will get a new probation officer, Bobbie DeBruler, according to the county’s chief probation officer, Bart Hobart.
“Obviously he’s high profile, and he has very special needs,” Hobart said. “The judge’s original plan was to have him in residential placement and for whatever reason that has not worked out, so we’re going to give him wrap-around services in the community to address the needs that have been identified in various psychological tests.”
Daniel must contact DeBruler every day and obtain a high school education, Burge ordered.
Hobart said he expects that Daniel will be enrolled in a GED program or attend a special school such as Life Skills Academy.
Daniel’s attorney, Michael Stepanik, said his client “just wants to do well and get his life back.”
Stepanik said the teen has a 10-year prison sentence hanging over his head if he fails to obey orders.
He said he did not talk to Kovarbasich after his release from jail Friday, but he said Kovarbasich was eager to do well after Burge gave him another chance Thursday.
“Probation is a carrot,” Stepanik said. “Anybody would be happy to get out of jail and do the right thing. He’s never going to live a normal life. It’s because of everything that happened to him — the bad he’s done and the bad done to him.”
Last year, Burge found Daniel guilty of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault in the Jan. 22, 2010, beating and stabbing death of 55-year-old Duane Hurley in
Hurley’s North Ridgeville home. Daniel had been charged with murder and was tried as an adult.
During his trial, former Lorain County Coroner Paul Matus testified Hurley had been stabbed 55 times and had been beaten with a pickle jar.
Daniel testified that he had been sexually molested by Hurley and that he killed the man because he didn’t want to have sexual relations that day. Hurley’s family has denied he molested the teen.
Burge sentenced Daniel to five years of probation over the objections of prosecutors, who had pushed for a lengthy prison term.
The judge ordered Daniel to be held at the county jail until a residential treatment facility that would accept him could be found. In May, Burge ordered Daniel released from jail.
Burge’s order stated that Daniel must begin and complete a program of counseling and rehabilitation through the Lorain County Family and Children First Council.
His case was assigned to Barbara Mingee, a licensed social worker and the wife of former Sheffield Lake Mayor Gary Mingee.
In a hearing Thursday, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Tony Cillo asked Burge to send Daniel to prison, saying they had programs for teens and that it had initially been “a close call” to sentence him to probation instead of prison.
“This is a person the court’s tried to keep tight reins on based on a representation he’s a danger to the community, and he’s been unwilling to follow the court’s rules and is unwilling to do what’s required,” Cillo told Burge at Thursday’s hearing.
Daniel’s family lives on Center Ridge Road and North Ridgeville Police Chief Michael Freeman said police would assist any way they can.
“We certainly have some concerns, but we’ll live with the judge’s orders,” Freeman said.
Within a few hours of his release, a police officer radioed in that Daniel was spotted at a gas station with his mother, which was allowed because it was between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and he is no longer on house arrest, the chief said.
Cillo did not return calls for comment, and Burge declined to comment on the order.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.