Posted: 1:50 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012
By Rick McCrabb
Shawn and Joanna Blackston, of Middletown, were sentenced to six months in Butler County Jail, but that sentence was suspended and they were placed on three years probation by Judge Matthew Crehan Tuesday in Butler County Court.
The sentence ends a case that began in July when Butler County Children Services representatives were called to the Blackston’s Middletown home on Philadelphia Avenue.
July 3: Butler County Children Services investigators inspect the home of Shawn and Joanna Blackston, 1606 Philadelphia Ave. in Middletown, based on an anonymous complaint that a 12-year-old girl was locked in the basement. Based on the investigation, children services investors contact Middletown police. Detective Fred Shuemake responds and decides all six children living at the home should be removed. They are placed into foster care.
July 5: Shuemake revisits the Blackston’s house.
July 6: An arrest warrant for the Blackstons is issued by Middletown police. They are charged with felony kidnapping, unlawful restraint and child endangering.
July 7: The Blackston are found in a motel in Sharonville and arrested.
July 9: The Blackstons are arraigned in Middletown Municipal Court. Joanna Blackston posts a $25,000 bond; Shawn Blackston remains in jail.
July 11: A search warrant is issued and Shuemake searches the house.
July 16: Their case is bound over to the Butler County grand jury by retired Judge Robert Messham.
Aug. 21: A Butler County grand jury throws out the felony kidnapping and unlawful restraint charges and certifies the child endangering charge to Butler County Juvenile Court.
Sept. 17: The Blackstons appear before retired and visiting Judge Matthew Crehan in juvenile court. A three-day trial is set for November.
Nov. 13-15: The Blackstons stand trial for child endangering. Over the course of the three days, several people are called for the prosecution and defense, including Joanna Blackston and the 12-year-old who claims she was locked in the basement and was abused by her father and stepmother.
Nov. 16: The Blackstons are found guilty on child endangering, but there was no evidence that made the judge believe the girl was locked in the basement.
Nov. 26: A pre-trial hearing for the custody of the Blackston’s children is heard before visiting Judge Tom Lipps.
Dec. 10: Four of the Blackston children are placed in custody with their grandparents.
Dec. 18: The Blackstons are sentenced to six months in jail, the maximum, but the sentenced is suspended and they are placed on three years probation.