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Portage homicide victim's family upset with COVID-19 related trial delay

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Portage Homicide Victim's Family Protests

PORTAGE (WKOW) - Family members of a reckless homicide victim in Portage are upset with a COVID-19 related delay in the trial involving their loved one's death.
Authorities said Samuel Osornio provided the heroin responsible for the March 2020 overdose death of Joey Bonin, 45.
Bonin's sister, Lisa Ford said her brother was working at a Portage factory and trying to invest more time with his three children. Ford says his death was unexpected and shocking.

"I keep waiting for him to walk in the door," Ford said tearfully.
The case against Osornio has involved a ditched, speedy trial demand; the rejection of a plea agreement offer; and Osornio's release from jail on $20,000 bail in March after a year in custody.
"And it hurts to know that he's walking around and doing whatever he wants," Ford said.

Ford said her hurt intensified last month as she prepared to sit through the trial of the man allegedly responsible for her brother's demise.

"I was sick, physically, mentally sick," Ford said. "Just getting ready to relive that day all over again."

But as trial was set to begin Sept. 27, Columbia County District Attorney Brenda Yaskal announced there was an issue with trial prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Crystal Long.

"ADA Long had been exposed to the coronavirus," Yaskal told the court. "Got a COVID test...she is isolating at home," Yaskal said, noting it would be two to three days before her subordinate would have test results.  Yaskal apologized for the last minute nature of her successful request for a trial delay.

"If there was anything I could change about the situation, I would," Yaskal said.

But Bonin's siblings say the district attorney could have done more, such as having two prosecutors assigned to a felony, homicide trial or having a prosecutor available to step in.

"How does she not have a back up? Ford asked. "When I'm not at work, I have a back up."

"In every other walk of life...we have found ways to continue to do our work," Bonin's brother, Mike Bonin said. "It's beyond belief to me that they didn't have any proactive measures in place to account for something we should have seen as a possibility."
The Columbia County District Attorney's Office lists five prosecutors, including Yaskal.

Through email, 27 News asked Yaskal if a substitute prosecutor for Long was considered, and whether the trial delay request was consistent with the spirit of Marsy's Law and its enhancement of victim's rights. Yaskal has yet to respond to 27 News.

Ford says her life has been put on hold for these many months, as she's arranged responsibilities and activities around the need to be present for court hearings and certainly any trial.  
Mike Bonin concedes he's not been exposed to the legal process before in a situation where a family member was the victim of a major crime. But Bonin said what he's witnessed has saddened him.

"I'm incredibly disappointed in the criminal justice system here."
Court records show Judge Todd Hepler addressed victim family members after the September trial dates were scrapped. Efforts by 27 News to reach Hepler Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Osornio's reckless homicide trial is now scheduled for December 21.

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