Lawyers battle during first day of former Springboro teacher’s trial

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Former Springboro teacher Amy Panzeca?€™s lawyer and the prosecutor building the case against Panzeca battled on Monday during the first day of her trial in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Four text messages sent between former Springboro teacher Amy Panzeca and her son’s cellphones were analyzed on Monday during the first day of her trial in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

The messages — discussing drug use, individuals’ likelihood of talking with police and payments due in April and May 2017, among other things — were extracted from the two phones although they had been deleted, according to Detective Christopher Wong of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

During the trial, Wong read extensively from reports on what was found on the phones seized after the Panzeca’s home in Springboro was raided.

“NO ONE goes outside,” said one text from Amy Panzeca’s phone.

“Why is it in my freezer?” asked another message from the teacher’s phone.

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Panzeca’s lawyer, Andrea Ostrowski, argued there was no way to know who sent the messages and raised other questions about their authenticity, but Judge Donald Oda II overruled her objections.

Panzeca, who resigned in December after more than 20 years as an elementary school teacher in Springboro, is charged with permitting drug abuse, contributing to the unruliness and endangering children.

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Wong’s testimony about the texts followed the son’s limited responses to questions from prosecutors after he invoked his right not to answer questions under the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Oda and the boy’s lawyer advised him when and when not to respond to questions.

Amy Panzeca’s two interviews by an agent from the Warren County Drug Task Force were also played.

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Panzeca denied knowing boys found in her basement were using LSD, but acknowledged some awareness of the activities that drew the attention of local police and the task force.

“I said maybe I was suspicious but didn’t want to be suspicious,” she said at one point on one recording.

Earlier Monday, Assistant County Prosecutor Derek Faulkner called a series of drug task force detectives to build the case against Panzeca, charged along with her juvenile son, after a drug raid at their Springboro home in May 2017.

“Drug use was common” at the house, Faulkner said during his opening statement.

“Not investigating what’s going on in your basement still equals knowledge,” Faulkner said.

Faulkner said he would prove Panzeca actually knew her son and others were using drugs in their basement.

Faulkner said Panzeca said, “She would rather them do that at their home than somewhere else.”

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Ostrowski challenged this and other allegations made during testimony. She pressed the detectives about why no one else, other than Panzeca’s son, was charged in the case, although others admitted to criminal activity.

Oda, who will be deciding guilt or innocence in the case, questioned if Panzeca could be convicted of the permitting drug abuse since the only drug use convictions involved juveniles convicted of juvenile delinquency, rather than an adult felony.

“They would have to show she had knowledge,” Ostrowski added.

Panzeca’s home in Springboro was raided by agents from the Warren County Drug Task Force and Springboro police.

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The son pleaded no contest to charges of trafficking in drugs and possession of controlled substances and was sentenced in December 2017 to 30 days in the local detention center.

As part of his sentence in Warren County Juvenile Court, he was ordered to complete an in-patient treatment program, placed on probation, possibly until he turns 21, and fined $250.

He was accused of selling drugs to students at Springboro High School, including LSD allegedly purchased with Bitcoin, an on-line currency that his mother allegedly purchased for him with a credit or debit card.

Amy Panzeca’s trial is expected to continue into Wednesday.

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