Ohio teen sentenced in death of undercover detective, informant

CLEVELAND (AP) — A teenager involved in a botched robbery that ended with the fatal shooting last year of an undercover Cleveland detective and his informant has been sentenced to a term in the Ohio youth services facility.

The sentence imposed Tuesday in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court calls for the now-16-year-old to remain in custody until he’s 21. He could then be freed if he does well during his time at the facility. but if not he could face a sentence of 23 years to life in state prison.

The teenager apologized to the family of Detective James Skernivitz, saying, “I don’t expect immediate forgiveness because what I’ve done is unforgivable.”

Skernivitz, 53, and informant Scott Dingess, 50, were killed Sept. 3, 2020, while they were in an unmarked car preparing for a drug operation. A group of youths approached them and one fired several shots into the vehicle.

A married father of three and a 22-year member of the Cleveland force, Skernivitz had been sworn in as a member of a federal violent crime task force the day before he was killed. Authorities have not said whether he was working, either for the task force or for the gang unit to which he was normally assigned, when he was shot.

The teenager, who was 15 at the time and did not fire any shots, is the first person to plead guilty in the case. He pleaded guilty last month to two counts of aggravated murder.

As part of his plea deal, the teenager agreed to testify against his five other co-defendants, including the alleged shooter, who have all pleaded not guilty.