Lake County: Preliminary hearing held for juvenile accused of killing Painesville resident in 2019

·4 min read

Aug. 10—A preliminary hearing took place in Lake County Juvenile Court on Aug. 10 for a defendant who is accused of killing a Painesville man in 2019.

The male defendant, who is now 20 years old, is still under the jurisdiction of juvenile court because he allegedly committed the slaying three years ago when he was 17 years old.

Lake County Juvenile Court Judge Karen Lawson said the name of the defendant could not be included in any media stories at the Aug. 4 hearing, since he is still classified as a juvenile.

The defendant, who lives in Willowick, is accused of killing Painesville resident Timothy Meola on either Sept. 6 or 7 of 2019. Meola, 65, was found dead inside his Mentor Avenue home on the morning of Sept. 7 during that same year.

A family member called Painesville police after Meola did not show up at an event where his business was providing catering services. Meola was the owner Guyreino's Deli and Meola Catering, which were both based in the Ashtabula area.

At the conclusion of the three-hour hearing on Aug. 10, Lawson ruled that there was probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the crimes listed in all 19 felony counts that he faced.

For 11 of those charges listed in a criminal complaint against the defendant — five unclassified counts of aggravated murder and six unclassified counts of murder — it was mandatory, under Ohio law, for Lawson to bind those charges over to adult court.

The next step is for a Lake County grand jury to decide whether the defendant will be formally charged with those 11 counts. If the grand jury serves the defendant with an indictment, he'll face trial as an adult in Lake County Common Pleas Court.

Even though there was only one person killed in this particular case, Multiple charges of aggravated murder and murder were filed against the defendant. That's because each count involves alternative theories of how the murder could have been committed.

On the 11 aggravated murder and murder charges, Lawson set bond of $2 million, with a 10 percent cash option for the defendant, who is lodged in Lake County Jail.

Lawson also found that there was probable cause to believe that the defendant committed eight other felonies: two counts of aggravated robbery, two counts of robbery, aggravated burglary, burglary, grand theft of a motor vehicle, and tampering with evidence.

Regarding those charges, Lake County Assistant Public Defender Lauren Tuttle, who represented the defendant, asked for an amenability hearing.

The hearing, slated for Aug. 30, will decide whether the defendant is amenable to care or rehabilitation with the juvenile justice system. If not, the case would be transferred to Lake County Common Pleas Court.

A mental health evaluation will be performed on the defendant prior to that hearing.

Lawson issued those rulings after listening to arguments presented by Tuttle and Lake County Assistant Prosecutors Carolyn Mulligan and Eric Foisel.

Mulligan also called one witness to the stand — Painesville Police Detective William Smith. He answered questions from Mulligan and Tuttle about many crime scene photos, and how police conducted their investigation that led to the defendant being arrested.

Details of the investigation highlighted at the hearing indicated that the defendant allegedly killed Meola after the two engaged in sex in a loft above the upstairs bedroom at Meola's home.

The investigation also revealed Meola had met the defendant through a dating app. Meola and the defendant had consensual sex two previous times, before Meola picked up the defendant in Euclid on the evening of Sept. 6.

According to the investigation, Meola then took the defendant to his home on Sept. 6 and the two once again had sex. However, the defendant allegedly became angry at Meola for violating a rule they had agreed on regarding sexual activity.

Investigators learned that after the sexual activity, the defendant was asked by Meola to retrieve marijuana from another part of the house and bring it into the loft. However, the defendant allegedly came back with a knife and stabbed Meola multiple times, causing his death.

An autopsy revealed that Meola was stabbed 30 times. He also suffered blunt-force injuries from some type of object that fractured his skull.

The defendant also is accused of stealing Meola's cellphone and 2018 Jeep Cherokee, which contained other property belonging to the victim.

Meola's vehicle was found a few days after his death at a Euclid apartment complex.

Painesville police had received information from a caller regarding an unoccupied vehicle matching the description. Euclid police then were dispatched to the scene and confirmed the Jeep was Meola's.