The Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office, through Assistant Chief Ralph M. Rivera, filed objections with the Ohio Parole Board regarding the upcoming parole hearings of co-defendants Brandon Moore and Chaz Bunch scheduled for February 2022.
Moore and Bunch were sentenced to 50 and 49 years, respectively, for the violent and callous kidnapping, robbery, and repeated rape of a 22-year-old female Youngstown State University student on August 21, 2001. The attack started just as she arrived to work the midnight shift at a group home for mentally-handicapped women. Moore and Bunch kidnapped the victim at gunpoint and drove her to a dead-end street near Pyatt Street in Youngstown, where Moore and Bunch raped her repeatedly at gunpoint. Moore was convicted of two additional counts of aggravated robbery that occurred shortly before he and Bunch kidnapped and raped the YSU student.
In January 2021, the Ohio General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 256, granting parole eligibility to juvenile offenders like Brandon Moore and Chaz Bunch, regardless of their original sentence. Because Moore and Bunch were 15 and 16 years old, respectively, both are now eligible for parole when they committed these horrific offenses. Despite this fact, the U.S. Supreme Court specifically recognized in Graham v. Florida that “[a] State is not required to guarantee eventual freedom to a juvenile offender convicted of a nonhomicide crime. What the State must do, however, is give defendants like Graham some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” (Emphasis added.) Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48, 75, 130 S.Ct. 2011, 176 L.Ed.2d 825 (2010).
Ohio law only requires that juvenile offenders like Moore and Bunch receive an opportunity for parole but does not guarantee their eventual release into society. While Moore and Bunch will be afforded the required chance of parole, the violent nature of their offenses, their significant criminal history as juveniles, and their negative behavior while incarcerated in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction establish that neither one is suitable for parole. Their offenses unambiguously illustrate two people who should never live free in society.
Before this offense, Brandon Moore had a significant juvenile record. He spent time at the Ohio Department of Youth Services because he did not respond favorably to the terms and conditions of his probation.
Chaz Bunch also had a significant juvenile record, which included aggravated menacing, receiving stolen property, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, resisting arrest, and possession of drugs. In both cases of aggravated menacing, Defendant Bunch threatened to kill several individuals, including two Boardman police officers in one of those instances. Bunch was also charged with shooting another individual, but the individual later refused to cooperate in Bunch’s juvenile adjudication of that offense.
For all those reasons, the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office objected to the release of Defendants Brandon Moore and Chaz Bunch because the brutality and callousness of the kidnapping, robbery, and repeated rape of the YSU student demonstrate that paroling either Moore or Bunch would be inconsistent with protecting our community’s welfare and security.