By Margie Wuebker
While peers embark on their senior year of high school, a 17-year-old Celina boy faces the prospect of a lengthy prison term following a Wednesday afternoon appearance in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.
Brett W. Wyerick, whose address remains the Mercer County jail, showed no emotion as he entered a plea of guilty to a bill of information charging him with aggravated burglary, abduction and attempted sexual battery. The felony offenses range in seriousness from first- to fourth-degree.
His case was to be presented to a Mercer County grand jury today, with the nine jurors having the authority to return even more counts after hearing evidence resulting from a Mercer County Sheriff's Office investigation.
Plea negotiations reportedly began in late July after Mercer County Juvenile Court Judge Mary Pat Zitter ruled Wyerick should be tried as an adult. The case first went to Celina Municipal Court and then to common pleas court for presentation to the grand jury.
Mercer County Prosecutor Andy Hinders said several factors were involved in the decision to handle the case in adult court. They include the seriousness of the offenses, the age of the perpetrator and the effectiveness of previous juvenile court sanctions. Court records indicate Wyerick had been adjudicated a delinquent child Aug. 15, 2002, in connection with a rape case. He was committed to the custody of the Ohio Department of Youth Services, but the commitment was later stayed in accordance with terms set forth by the court.
Wyerick turns 18 on Sept. 1. Any sanctions imposed in the juvenile division in regard to the latest case would expire upon his 21st birthday.
The youth, who was armed with a knife, entered a Hopewell Township home shortly after midnight June 1 and attempted to engage in sexual activity with a minor.
He gained entry by removing glass from a basement window. He reportedly used tape or some other sticky substance to prevent the glass from falling into the basement.
Once inside, Wyerick removed his shoes and stealthily made his way through the first floor and upstairs to the bedroom area where the 13-year-old victim and her siblings slept.
During a statement of facts, Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Fox stated the boy entered the intended victim's bedroom, dropped his boxer shorts and approached the bed wearing a ski mask and holding the knife.
The girl reportedly made some type of noise before he clamped a hand over her mouth. That noise awakened the parents and they went upstairs to investigate. The father grabbed and wrestled Wyerick, ultimately pinning him to the girl's bed until a deputy arrived.
A subsequent search of the room turned up the knife. Deputies do not know at this point whether the folding-type weapon was dislodged during the struggle or whether it was dropped to avoid detection.
The family apparently knew Wyerick by sight because he lived in the general area, but he had not been a visitor to the home. A family friend indicated there was no relationship between the teenagers.
Relatives and friends of the girl as well as the perpetrator filled four rows of seats in the courtroom Wednesday afternoon. A member of her family cried intermittently during the proceeding.
Wyerick, who was initially held at the West Central Juvenile Detention Center, faces up to 161Ú2 years in prison and fines totaling $35,000. A sex offender classification hearing will take place prior to sentencing at 1 p.m. Oct. 11.
Fox requested the $1 million bond remain in place with the 10 percent factor removed that would have paved the way for release upon payment of $100,000.
"The parents were unable to pay $100,000," defense attorney Dan Myers responded. "A $1 million bond might as well be $10 million."
Judge Jeffrey Ingraham approved the bond request made by Fox, noting it was appropriate given the serious nature of the charges.
Wyerick remains in a single cell with corrections officers frequently checking on his well-being, according to jail administrator Jodie Lange.