Charges Dropped Against Man Accused in Girl’s Death

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By Autumn Ziemba, Fox 8 News Reporter

SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio -- Just days before the trial was set to begin, the Summit County Prosecutor dismissed charges against a man accused of killing an 11-year-old Akron girl.

"(Mella) was outspoken, very educated, intelligent, and she could talk to me," Carmella Holley Sr. says of her late daughter.  "An innocent 11-year-old. Boy, what was lost."

It has been an agonizing year for Holley, since losing her 11-year-old daughter and namesake, in August of 2011.

The child was killed by a stray bullet while she was watching television in her family's apartment at Keys Place in Akron.

Holley has been so heartbroken by her daughter's loss, she says she has since suffered multiple strokes.

"As soon as I get to healing, here comes something to knock me right back down," Holley told Fox 8 on Friday.

Vernon Singleton, 26, was arrested and charged with the girl`s murder, and was set to go to trial on July 30.  However, Friday morning, the Summit County Prosecutor dismissed the charges after the sole witness refused to testify because of threats made to his family.

"Devastating is not the word.  It's like, being as though I already lost here, it put a hole in my heart," Holley explained.  "(The witnesses are) cowards.  They're straight cowards, and that frustrates me."

But Holley is not alone in her frustration.

In a press release Friday morning, Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh made a plea to the public.

"There are people in Akron who know exactly what happened the night Carmella Holley was murdered, but they refuse to stand up for an 11-year-old girl and her devastated family," Prosecutor Walsh said.  "Yes, it is scary to sit in that witness box.  And yes, it is easier to swear you saw and know nothing. But someone has to be brave enough to ignore the no-snitching culture and help us seek justice for Carmella Holley and every other victim of 'witness-less' crime if we want to end the violence in Akron."

Holley says, with the number of people who have participated in vigils and donated money for her daughter's funeral, she can only hope that someone will come forward as a witness.

"Feel my pain," Holley pleaded.  "And speak up, and let me know that you do care about my daughter that was lost."

Vernon Singleton was released from the Summit County Jail on Friday.

Prosecutor Walsh says that because the charges were dismissed without prejudice, they can be refiled down the road, should a witness choose to come forward and cooperate. 

She says there is no statute of limitation on murder.

A second suspect, Terrance Roane, 19, is facing charges of felonious assault and shooting into a habitation.  His trial is scheduled to begin on October 1.

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