WILMINGTON — The attorney for a suspect in a recent homicide case has been removed after police and court officials say that attorney was apparently under the influence of alcohol during a meeting.
Attorney Richard Federle Jr., 52, was removed as the appointed attorney for murder suspect Corey Ruffner, 22, after Federle was allegedly under the influence at an arraignment hearing on Feb. 28.
Ruffner requested — in a letter to Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John “Tim” Rudduck — the removal on Wednesday due to concerns he had about Federle.
When reached by phone for comment Wednesday, Federle told the News Journal, “I am not in a position to comment at this time.”
According to a report by Wilmington Police Det. Scott Baker, during the hearing he noted that, as he was speaking with Federle, “I detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath. I also noticed his eyes were red, bloodshot and glassy.”
Baker also reported that Federle’s movements were “slow, off-balance and uncoordinated” and his speech was “slow and slurred.”
Baker reported that he spoke with the court bailiff and magistrate who also “had a concern for Richard Federle being under the influence of alcohol.”
Clinton County Prosecutor Rick Moyer and Baker discussed an upcoming interview with Ruffner that would take place within the hour at the Wilmington Police Department. Moyer wanted to speak with Federle before the WPD interview to see if he was under the influence.
“We did not feel it was appropriate to interview Corey Ruffner if Richard Federle was under the influence, as he (Ruffner) would not be receiving adequate legal advice,” Baker stated in his report.
During the meeting in the detective conference room at the police department, a WPD officer was present and recorded the meeting between Federle and Moyer on his body camera.
Federle was given the opportunity to take a portable breath test to prove he was not intoxicated. Federle declined, stating he might have “residual alcohol” on his breath from last night, said Baker in his report.
Federle also requested that the interview be rescheduled for another day.
Baker called the “residual alcohol” comment a “myth” in the report.
“Although true a person who drinks heavily can smell of alcohol through the pores when sweating, this is not true for the odor of an alcoholic beverage on their breath. When you drink faster than your liver can handle, the alcohol accumulates in the blood and travels to various parts of the body. One of these is the lungs. When the blood reaches the lungs and carries out the exchange of gases, alcohol is also passed over. Hence that “alcohol breath” is coming from your lungs, not the mouth. The portable breathalyzer offered to Richard Federle would have measured the amount of alcohol in the air that is exhaled. Since the air is coming from the lungs, it gives a good idea of the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream,” Baker states in the report.
Ruffner — along Christian Terry, Kevin Noe Jr., and Joshua Williams — has been charged with murder in connection to the shooting death of Layne Hall, 23, of Blanchester in January.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574