Got them: Teenagers indicted in murder of Cleveland Police Detective and informant

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CLEVELAND, OH David McDaniel Jr., one of the teenaged suspects alleged to have been involved in the murders of Cleveland Police Det. James Skernivitz and informant Scott Dingess, has been indicted, according to reports.

Two other suspects, a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old, face numerous charges in Juvenile Court, including aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery and felonious assault. Both juveniles have denied the charges and remain incarcerated at the Juvenile Detention Center. 

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office recently announced the numerous charges that McDaniel, 18, will be facing in court.

Those charges include four counts of aggravated murder, two counts of murder, two counts of aggravated robbery, two counts of felonious assault and one count of tampering with evidence.

What was also interesting in the press release by the prosecutor’s office was the mentioning of two additional arrests that are linked to the case.

The Prosecutor’s Office has indicted Brittany Cremeans, 24, and Antonio Darby, 27, with two counts of obstructing justice and one count of tampering with evidence.

Both Darby and Cremeans were alleged to have helped dispose of the murder weapon in the case and then lied to investigators while the case was being worked.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley stated the following about the case and subsequent indictments:

“Sadly, these types of random, senseless homicides happen in our community nearly every day. This time the victims were a police officer on duty to make our community a better place and a citizen who volunteered to assist him.”

The prosecutor noted that as a result of this crime, there are now two families that are mourning their losses:

“Two families are now without fathers and the entire community is left heartbroken due to yet another instance of senseless gun violence.”

Got them: Teenagers indicted in murder of Cleveland Police Detective and informant
David McDaniel – Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office

McDaniel is currently being held on a $3 million bond and is being housed at the Cuyahoga County Jail. He’s scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 22 and Darby and Cremeans on Oct. 1.

Both of the juveniles in the case are slated for an Oct. 27 court appearance.

Here’s our previous reports on this developing case. 

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CLEVELAND, OH  With three suspects in custody related to the shooting deaths of Cleveland Police Det. James Skernivitz and informant Scott Dingess, the mother of the 15-year-old who has been implicated in the murders spoke out about the charges against her child.

The woman had wished to remain anonymous when speaking with a local news crew about her son’s alleged involvement in these murders.

Because the suspect is a minor under the age of 17, the identifying details of the accused are also sealed.

Police have also filed charges against an 18-year-old, David McDaniel Jr., and a 17-year-old, Kevin Robinson, in the case. Both McDaniel and Robinson are facing charges related to murder in the case.

Investigators suspect that this wasn’t a case of the teens targeting the police detective because he was a police officer, but rather it was some kind of robbery gone fatally awry.

However, charging documents also suggest that the two juveniles arrested should have known that Det. Skernivitz was an officer.

The mother of the 15-year-old in custody believes that her son got roped in with a bad crowd that evening, being led to the scene of the crime under false pretenses:

“Whatever them other kids did, they got him in a bad situation. They lied to him. They told him that he was going to get marijuana… He’s not that type of person. He had never done nothing like this.”

Considering the allegations levied against the three suspects, the 18-year-old could be facing the death penalty, whereas the juveniles could be looking at life in prison (assuming they are tried in the adult court system).

The mother of the youngest alleged offender insists that her son does not “deserve” any sort of life sentence:

“That’s sad. He doesn’t deserve that. He’s not that type of person.”

Despite coming to the defense of her child, the woman also acknowledged that two lives were taken and that families are mourning their loss as a result:

“I’m deeply remorseful for them two families because nobody should lose their life…ever.”

A grand jury is expected to review the charges against 18-year-old McDaniel and determine what will be prosecutable, whereas the two juveniles in the case will have their fates determined in the coming months by the Juvenile Courts to see if they’ll be tried as adults.

Here’s our previous report on the case as it was actively developing:

CLEVELAND, OH – Three teenage suspects, charged with the murder of Cleveland Police Det. James M. Skernivitz and informant Scott D. Dingess, have all been arrested and are in CPD custody. 

Det. Skernivitz, who was working undercover during a narcotics investigation, and Dingess, said to be an informant specifically for this investigation, were in a vehicle parked on West 65th Street on the evening of Sept. 3. They were preparing to conduct a drug deal.

The two men were murdered when three teenage boys walked up and eventually opened fire on the vehicle, in what police say appears to have been a robbery attempt. 

There were no other police officers nearby at the time of the shooting.

The three teens have been charged in the killing of the Cleveland police detective and his informant. 

WJW Fox8 reported that one of the teens, officially an adult at 18 years of age, is David McDaniel Jr.  He is charged with two counts of aggravated murder.

The other teen, still a minor, is 17-year-old Kevin Robinson.  He has been charged with murder, aggravated murder, felony assault and aggravated robbery.

The two teens were initially arrested as “persons of interest.” They were officially charged when surveillance video, showing them entering and then fleeing the area, was recovered near the scene in the West Side neighborhood, in addition to tips submitted via the established tip lines.

The third teen is a juvenile, at 15 years old.  His identity has not been made public because he is under 17.  He was the final person of interest that authorities were searching for, and turned himself in for arrest after charges had been formally filed. 

His family arranged a meeting with law enforcement at a West Side convenience store.  Family members brought him to the store, where they were met by U.S. Marshals and CPD officers, who took him into custody.

Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin D. Williams, F.B.I. Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith, and Crime Stoppers Cuyahoga County Captain Richard McIntosh issued brief statements together concerning the case.

Mayor Jackson began:

“The Cleveland Division of Police, their federal and local partners worked together on this case.  I continue to ask that you join me in offering condolences to the family of Detective Skernivitz, his wife and their children.”

Chief Williams added:

“I want to commend the investigators in this case who dedicated every waking moment to ensure that the individuals responsible for this terrible crime were properly identified and taken into custody.  I am thankful to the citizens who came forward with information. 

Furthermore, I want to thank the community members who have offered their kind words of support and prayers.  They are truly appreciated.”

Special Agent Smith followed up:

“It is with a heavy heart that we make the announcement of the three individuals arrested believed to be responsible for the shooting death of our law enforcement colleague, Detective James Skernivitz. 

The swift investigation completed by law enforcement, with numerous tips provided from the community, has been commendable – a true partnership. 

These three individuals will be held accountable for their heinous actions.   Our continued thoughts and prayers to the Skernivitz family and our partners at the Cleveland Division of Police.”

Captain McIntosh concluded:

“The excellent work of law enforcement has made the city safer for its citizens.”

The Cleveland Police Department, in coordination with the FBI and Crime Stoppers of Cuyahoga County, saw numerous tips being called in since raising the reward to $35,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killers. 

Though they already had two of the suspects in custody before doing so, more evidence needed to be gathered in order to file charges that would hold up in court.  After police recovered surveillance video near the scene of the murder, they were able to successfully place the suspects at the scene, with additional information provided by some of the tips.

According to his obituary: Det. Skernivitz, 53, leaves behind a wife and three children.  He also leaves behind his mother, a brother, in-laws, an uncle, a cousin and many friends.

The drug sting that the detective was working undercover in was a local Operation Legend effort.  He was assigned to the Gang Impact Unit, and the group that he was monitoring was apparently involved in drug trafficking.

Operation Legend is a multistate, multicity, multiagency initiative seeking to reduce violent crime through various local, state and federal collaborations.

The operation was named after four-year-old murder victim LeGend Taliaferro, who was shot earlier this summer in his Kansas City home while sleeping.

The funeral for Det. Skernivitz was scheduled to take place on Friday, Sept. 10.

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