Jason M. Zwick’s trial on three counts of felony rape against a child younger than 13 is set to begin Tuesday morning in Miami County Common Pleas Court in Troy.
The prosecution’s key witnesses will be the alleged victim and Kenneth H. Brandt, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to at least 60 years in prison for raping three boys in his care. Brandt, who will testify for the prosecution to satisfy his plea agreement, didn’t want his case to go to trial because the boys would have to testify, his attorney said.
Zwick, 30, of Beavercreek, is accused of three counts of rape against one of Brandt’s sons after Zwick allegedly answered Brandt’s Craigslist ad for taboo sex. The indictment estimates the activity took place between Jan. 1, 2012 and Feb. 24, 2012. The case was brought forward after an Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force investigation resulted in charges against Brandt, Zwick and Dayton’s Patrick Rieder.
Represented by Joe Stadnicar, Zwick won’t get to directly face his accuser since Judge Christopher Gee ruled that the alleged victim can testify by closed-circuit television from another part of the building. Judge Gee turned down the defense’s request to have the boy speak in open court or testify in court with only “essential personnel.”
A Troy police report about the incidents describe an interview the boy gave to police in which he referred to anatomically correct photos of nude males and described who did what between himself and Zwick.
In the interview, the boy told investigators Brandt told him he would be having sex with another man that night. The boy said he was awake in his bed while Brandt and Zwick were “in the hot tub out back.” The boy then provided other information about the encounter.
The trial is going ahead after Gee overruled a defense motion for continuation during a Monday hearing because Stadnicar alleged that “key witnesses for the state may have been tampered with and compromised.”
Stadnicar said Brandt’s mother used her cell phone to take a picture or video of Zwick in the Miami County Jail during a visitation when Zwick’s family was visiting. Stadnicar argued the photos could be used to coach witnesses to identify Zwick. Prosecutors argued that ample photos of Zwick were available by many sources and that Brandt’s mother’s photos would be of no use to the prosecution.
Brandt’s Montgomery County case with seven rape-related charges also ended in a plea agreement. His sentencing is set for Feb. 26. Rieder faces four counts of rape of a child younger than 13 and 75 more counts mostly involving illegal use of and pandering obscenity involving a minor. Rieder’s trial is scheduled for Feb. 19.