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Train hoppers get break

July 3, 2009

LISBON - The two young adults found riding illegally on a train passing through Salem in June will pay no fines and serve no additional jail time.

Appearing Thursday before Judge Carol Robb in Columbiana County Municipal Court, Carly Bennett, 18, last known address Mount Pleasant, S.C., and Kelsie Picken, 20, Manitou Beach, Mich., both pleaded no contest to climbing upon train while on track. Bennett also pleaded no contest to disrupting, delaying or preventing operation of a train.

Both defendants, who were taken into custody June 23 in Salem, were given credit for 11 days of jail time served and each had an additional 49 days of jail time suspended.

The young couple came into Ohio on a train inbound from New Jersey, Bennett told the court, and they got to New Jersey by hitchhiking.

"That's theft of services, sir, and we don't tolerate that in this county," the judge told Picken, referencing the illegal train ride.

Both Picken and Bennett had accepted a plea agreement that would have had them fined $100 on each charge and would have required them each to perform 40 hours of community service. However, Robb decided to waive the fines and community service hours based on their financial situations and plans for residency.

Bennett told Robb she has been unemployed since October and has been eating at shelters or from handouts that people give her. Picken said he hasn't had a job in two to three years and, when asked where he has been living, responded, "my backpack."

Robb decided to eliminate community service from the plea agreement because neither Bennett nor

Picken has long term plans to stay in the area. Picken said he plans to return to his parents' house in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he will stay indefinitely. Bennett told the court she has relatives in the Youngstown area and plans to stay with them until she heads to Michigan as well.

Bennett was instructed to speak to jail employees if her relatives could not pick her up so the employees could make arrangements for her to stay at a homeless shelter.

Robb instructed both defendants to have no contact with Norfolk-Southern Railroad and to stop jumping on trains, as any additional charge related to train-jumping would constitute probation violation and land each of them in the county jail for 49 days.



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