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Defense attorney Noah Munyer, left, represented Alexis Martin. The office of Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh, center, pushed for Alexis to receive a life sentence. Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio, right, decided whether 15-year-old Alexis should be tried as an adult. (Danny Thomas/Transmit Identity, Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal, Courtesy of Judge Teodosio)
She had only a defense attorney three years out of law school. Noah Munyer juggled 200 cases a year and had just once represented a juvenile facing murder charges. He didn’t know he could seek the Safe Harbor protections for Alexis. He didn’t call the witnesses, including her parents, who offered to testify that Alexis had told them Kerney would hurt her family if she disobeyed him. He didn’t argue that Alexis’s motive for robbing Kerney was to escape from him. He didn’t describe what Alexis said Kerney had been doing to her, calling their relationship only “highly suspicious.”
“It was and is the worst case of my career,” Munyer says now.
His goal was to keep her in the juvenile justice system, where she could serve her time in a youth detention center until the age of 21, and be left with only a juvenile record.
He thought that defaming a dead man would only hurt Alexis’s case. And Munyer was certain the psychologist’s report about Alexis’s traumatic past would be enough for the judge, a renowned progressive, to keep her case in juvenile court. Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio’s motto was “Turning lives around one child at a time.”
In court, Teodosio said Alexis had a “very clear history” of being trafficked and asked the prosecutors what should be done about it.
But the attorneys who represented Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh claimed there was no evidence Kerney had been trafficking Alexis. They focused on the statements of Alexis’s co-defendants, who said the robbery was her idea. (The other woman involved would later testify that Alexis said that if they robbed Kerney, they would have to kill him too —