Evaluation: Shawn Grate not insane at time of killings

ASHLAND - Suspected serial killer Shawn Grate was not insane at the time of the crimes he is accused of committing, according to one evaluation.

A video status conference was held Monday in Ashland County Common Pleas Court. The state and the defense were supposed to give the results of their experts' evaluations.

However, defense attorneys Robert and Rolf Whitney said they needed more time.

"That was the point of the status conference," Judge Ron Forsthoefel said.

Bob Whitney asked for 30 more days, leading Forsthoefel to set another video status conference for April 7.

"We'll just pick up where we left off today," the judge said.

Grate, 40, is scheduled for trial Nov. 6.

He is charged with 23 felony counts, including aggravated murder, in the deaths of Stacey Stanley, 43, and Elizabeth Griffith, 29. If convicted of aggravated murder, he could receive the death penalty.

Grate previously had been found competent to stand trial, meaning he understood the charges against him and could help in his defense. The next step was an assessment to determine if Grate is not guilty by reason of insanity.

His evaluation was scheduled for Jan. 17 at the District V Forensic Diagnostic Center in Mansfield. The Whitneys had their own expert evaluate Grate.

Grate appeared by video from the Ashland County Jail.

"All I do is sit in my cell 24 hours a day," he told Rolf Whitney prior to the hearing.

Forsthoefel said the court received the forensic diagnostic center's report on Friday.

"There was no finding that would support the not guilty by reason of insanity plea," the judge said.

The Whitneys told Forsthoefel their expert had met with Grate but had not produced a report yet.

If the case goes to trial, the court has blocked off five weeks for the proceedings.

The bodies of Stanley and Griffith were recovered Sept. 13 in an abandoned house at 363 Covert Court near downtown Ashland. According to the final autopsy, both women were strangled.

Grate also faces kidnapping and rape charges connected to a third woman who called 911 from the house, saying she had been abducted.

In addition, Grate has been linked to the 2015 death of Rebekah Leicy, of Mansfield, whose body was found in an Ashland County woods, and the death of an unidentified Marion County woman whose body was discovered in 2007.

Grate also has been implicated in a Richland County death. The remains found near a burned-out Madison Township house in September were identified through DNA as Candice Cunningham.

Shortly after Grate was apprehended in Ashland, he reportedly told authorities about the site. The house had been destroyed by a suspicious fire June 20 or 21.

Mansfield News Journal


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