ASHLAND, OHIO - Attorneys on both sides want accused serial killer Shawn Grate to keep quiet.
The Ashland County Prosecutor's Office and defense attorneys Rolf and Robert Whitney filed a joint motion for a gag order on Wednesday "to prohibit defendant from communicating, in any fashion, with any member of the public or news media regarding the pending case."
Grate was indicted last month in Ashland County on 23 felony charges, including aggravated murder, in the deaths of Elizabeth Griffith and Stacey Stanley. If convicted, Grate could receive the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Preliminary autopsy reports indicate both women were strangled.
Grate, 40, is being held in the Ashland County Jail on a $1 million cash bond.
Since his incarceration, Grate has been writing letters to news media outlets, discussing his alleged crimes. He also granted at least one interview to a Cleveland TV reporter.
"(He is) providing information and viewpoints that may potentially affect the jury pool and may potentially discuss or disclose inadmissible evidence," the attorneys wrote in their motion.
The gag order, which will be considered by Ashland County Common Pleas Judge Ron Forsthoefel, also seeks to prevent the parties and their counsel from any further communication with the press.
Attorneys says they are seeking a gag order to ensure due process and the defendant's right to a fair trial.
"While news media outlets may oppose the imposition of a gag order, citing the First Amendment, such rights must not be allowed to divert the trial from the very purpose of a court system to adjudicate controversies, both criminal and civil, in the calmness and solemnity of the courtroom according to legal procedures.
"... Given the high stakes of a capital case and the financial burden on the county and counsel should the trial need to be moved to a distant venue to avoid prejudicial publicity, a gag order is needed."
In addition to the aggravated murder charges, Grate faces kidnapping and rape charges connected to a third female who called 911 from 363 Covert Court, saying she had been abducted.
Since his arrest, Grate has been linked to the deaths of three other women in Richland and Marion counties.
In the Richland County case, authorities said Grate confessed to killing a woman in Madison Township in June. Her body was found behind a burned-out house at 1027 Park Ave. E.
Mansfield police also are investigating Grate's possible connections to a Mansfield woman whose body was found in a wooded area in Ashland County in 2015.
Grate also reportedly confessed to killing a woman in Marion County between 2003 and 2005. She has not been identified.