The murder trial of Ryan “Luke” St. John in connection with the death of 2-year-old Brayden Ferguson is scheduled to start today amid secrecy involving records in the case and the sealing of even the case docket, which is hidden from the public only on rare occasions.
That secrecy follows an administrative finding against Dayton police detective Lindsey Dulaney for neglect of duty stemming from her investigation of a complaint made against St. John that involved injuries suffered by Brayden on Nov. 19, 2015.
St. John was arrested and briefly jailed before being released with no charges filed in that incident.
Although the Montgomery County Prosecutor refused the case on Nov. 23, 2015, the office wrote a “to-do list” for law enforcement, according to spokesman Greg Flannagan. He wouldn’t elaborate.
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St. John, 23, is accused of killing Brayden — the son of St. John’s girlfriend, Kelsie Martin — in a Southshore Drive apartment in February 2017.
Brayden died of blunt-force injuries, according to the county coroner’s office. St. John and Martin also have a child together.
The sealing of the docket in the murder case, ordered by Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Gregory Singer, means no one can view it either online or in person.
This news organization was denied in an effort to see the docket, but was provided with a Dec. 12, 2017, entry and order by Singer stating all filings in the case shall have “No Public Access.” The order says only that the “application of the State” was granted “for good cause.”
The Dayton Daily News on March 19 requested that the city of Dayton provide supplemental police reports and narratives from the November 2015 incident, but as of Friday, the city had not provided that information.
The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office civil division also denied part of a public records request for its files from the Nov. 19, 2015, incident.
RELATED: Boyfriend indicted on murder charges in 2-year-old’s death “My office’s file on that matter is not public record at this time,” assistant prosecutor Joseph Saks said in a Wednesday email. “There is a pending case … that involves the same victim and same defendant.”
Saks did provide a heavily redacted police incident report that he says blacked out “personal information concerning an abused child” and parts of the report “that reference report of child abuse, including name of person who made report.”
Saks reiterated that “the remainder of the records in my office’s file are exempt from disclosure as trial preparation records and confidential law enforcement investigatory records.”
The incident report’s narrative — written at 10 p.m. on Nov. 19, 2015, by Dayton police officer Brandon Cartee — says St. John was taken from his house that morning to the safety building to be interviewed. He was arrested after he spoke with police.
The report, which suggested injuries consistent with child abuse according to Dayton Children’s Medical Center staff, showed the child had injuries to the head, neck, leg and foot.
Dulaney logged the beginning of her investigation on Nov. 30, 2015 ,noting she had talked to St. John and others on Nov. 19, 2015.
Police records indicate she entered the next supplemental report a year later — on Nov. 10, 2016. In it, she wrote that on Nov. 19, 2015, St. John said “he threw him up in the air and then caught him by the neck.”
The report later states that St. John is “playful” and that they “box together” and that the child “fell out of the pack and play.”
The narrative also says St. John denied any involvement in the boy’s injuries.
Dulaney’s personnel records indicated she failed to respond to assistant prosecutor Emily Sluk’s requests for more information on Nov. 20, 2015, May 9, 2016, and Aug. 29, 2016 — the last time about 5½ months before Brayden’s death.
Although she was initially given a 40-hour suspension, that punishment was converted on Feb. 18, 2018, to the loss of five days’ of vacation. Dulaney’s records show she was transferred from the Special Victims Unit to the Violent Offender Unit in March 2017, about a month after Brayden’s death.
Dulaney refused to answer a reporter’s questions Friday when asked about her investigation. Her personnel records indicate she was hired in October 2012 and promoted to police officer in April 2013, and to detective on Sept. 15, 2014.
Montgomery County Children Services also had an open case involving Brayden after the 2015 incident, agency spokesman Kevin Lavoie said Friday. The agency refused to say whether any children had been removed from the home, or if there was any restriction keeping St. John away from children in the home.
Bryan St. John, the defendant’s father, alleged a Children Services caseworker knew Luke St. John was in the house when he shouldn’t have been because of the 2015 incident.
The agency has not conducted any investigation or discipline into employee misconduct in the case, according to Lavoie.
Flannagan last week said his understanding was that the 2015 case was closed and that all counts in St. John’s indictment — murder, involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault and child endangering — were from injuries Brayden sustained on Feb. 13, 2017.
Brayden’s death has generated intense public interest. A Facebook page purported to be run by a group seeking justice for Brayden and a Youtube channel purported to belong to St. John’s father have posted documents supposedly related to both the 2015 and 2017 incidents.
Brayden’s father, Darryl Ferguson, is serving 11 years in prison for the 2014 beating death of Ryan Adams, 35, in the 300 block of Deeds Avenue in north Dayton.