Victim’s brother steps in to be sure hit-and-run driver stays behind bars

CLEVELAND -- A man convicted in a fatal hit and run accident, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison, filed a motion for early release and might have succeeded, if not for the victim's brother.

“He’s done nothing, but cause grief for the past 11 years, it’s something every year,” said Jeff Cook.

In July 2007, Cook's younger brother, Eddy Roland, was riding a brand new motorcycle he had just purchased on his 21st birthday, when he was struck and killed on Saint Clair Ave at E. 186th St. in Cleveland.

The driver, Mario Redding, who had an extensive criminal background and other drug related charges, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide.

This past winter, the now 31-year-old Redding filed a motion for early Judicial Release.

A hearing was scheduled for July 12 before Judge Dick Ambrose in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

In advance of the hearing, Redding was transferred to the Cuyahoga County Jail in Cleveland, which greatly concerned Cook.

“When they bring the inmates back up to the county for court they’re pretty much going to let them go,” said Cook.

Cook immediately questioned the validity of the hearing after reading Redding’s motion, which claimed he had been rehabilitated and completed - with certificates - numerous courses while behind bars.

“Just by him having 79 infractions alone, I knew there were a couple in there that he wouldn't have been eligible to take those classes, with the behavior he’s had,” said Cook, “Then it’s like a light clicked in my head and I remembered working in Erie how inmates would talk about forging these things.”

Cook took his concerns to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, who began investigating and confirmed Redding had not completed all of the courses he had claimed and some certificates had been falsified.

Redding requested and was granted a continuance twice, and tried a third time before a final hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday August 3.

When Judge Ambrose denied another continuance, Redding withdrew his previously filed motion for judicial release.

“He had no response for anything,” said Cook, “They had no choice but to withdraw and he’s being sent back to finish off the remainder of his time.”

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating how Redding forged the certificates and ways to prevent it from happening in the future.

Cook is grateful to both the prosecutors and state troopers for all of their hard work. He says, although it won't bring back his Eddy, at least justice will be served and potentially other inmates will be prevented from falsifying certificates to get out early.

Continuing coverage here.