Deaf teen charged in slaying declared incompetent to stand trial - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Deaf teen charged in slaying declared incompetent to stand trial

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A deaf teenager charged with the rape and aggravated murder of a 45-year-old mentally ill woman was found incompetent to stand trial.

Summit County Common Pleas Judge Jane Bond on Friday said Jerron Johnson, 17, won't go on trial until he learns sign language and is able to assist in his defense.

Johnson, who is being tried as an adult, was sent to a state mental hospital for treatment. Bond's order calls for Johnson to be treated for one year before he is returned for another evaluation.

He could return sooner, if his condition improves.

His attorney, Joy Chicatelli, said Johnson has an IQ of 61 and was never taught traditional signing. She said he can barely read lips.

Johnson, who has been jailed under a $1 million bond, was a high school student when he was arrested in May. He was bound over from juvenile court and faces adult charges of aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape, kidnapping, aggravated burglary and voyeurism.

If convicted, he could face life in prison.

He is accused of raping and strangling Jean Zienka inside her Akron home in October 2001.

Johnson was linked to the strangulation of Zienka after he was arrested in March and charged with voyeurism involving a 13-year-old who said Johnson watched her undress through a window.

He is also charged with raping a 37-year-old Akron woman during a burglary in November 2002 and attempting to rape a 35-year-old Akron woman in October 2001.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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