Several charges for violating protection orders dismissed before mother of 4 was killed by ex-boyfriend in Sheffield Village

Lorain City Law Director says just because victim doesn’t show up for court doesn’t necessarily mean case has to be dismissed.
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 4:47 AM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - As police continue their hunt for the man who shot and killed his ex-girlfriend outside of the McDonald’s where she worked, 19 News has uncovered that the victim had filed nearly one dozen orders of protection against suspect James Kimbrough, of Lorain.

Sheffield Village police say they are still actively searching for him to make an arrest.

But Kimbrough, who had been charged in about one dozen cases for violating the court’s orders and allegedly committing other crimes, often had the charges against him dismissed.

What’s unclear is why?

Kimbrough, who police believe is armed and dangerous, is accused of shooting and killing Milenna Lopez just before 10 a.m. on Jan 6. as she sat in her car in the McDonald’s parking lot in Sheffield Village to take a break.

According to court records obtained through public records requests from Lorain Municipal Court and Lorain County Common Pleas, since 2018, there have been at least nine protection orders filed against Kimbrough by Lopez. That doesn’t include one to protect the 10-month old baby the couple shared.

In four years, records show at least eight separate domestic violence cases, five of them in separate instances for violating a protection order.

The most recent order of protection was filed in Lorain Municipal Court and signed on Oct. 18, 2021. That’s just two and a half months before Lopez was shot and killed.

In one case, court records show Kimbrough was accused of violating the protection order and was charged with aggravated burglary, two domestic violence charges and unlawful restraint. The defendant received a $20,000 bond and was ordered to wear an ankle bracelet to monitor his location. What happened to the GPS monitoring system and if the suspect should have been wearing it at the time of the murder is unclear.

In another Lorain County Common Pleas case, Kimbrough pleaded guilty to four criminal charges including obstruction. The court noted at the time of sentencing, “The defendant was advised that he will receive 11 months in C.C.I. if he violates the terms of community control (or probation).”

On Aug. 21, 2019, it was determined Kimbrough did in fact violate his probation in that case, but instead of 11 months behind bars, he was given credit for time served, which was 46 days. He was not sent to jail.

Along with violating the protection order in 2019, all other domestic violence charges prior to 2021 were dismissed.

Sources say the victim did not show up to court. Unfortunately, that is not unusual in domestic violence cases.

A family member tells 19 News that she believes the law needs to change when there’s a pattern of the victim not showing up in court because victims of domestic violence are often afraid of the accused in cases like this, and many times the victims have been threatened not to show up.

19 News was able to reach Lorain’s law director by telephone. Patrick Riley told 19 News he would be reviewing the history of the case between the suspect and the victim further and hoped to provide more information on Wednesday. When asked if a case must be dismissed if the victim is not present in court, Riley said “not necessarily.”

There may be other evidence that would allow a case to move forward.

This is a developing story.

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