AKRON -- Summit County Common Pleas Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands has stepped down voluntarily from the pending capital murder trial of Deshanon Jammal Haywood, 22, of Akron, accused in the execution slayings of two men and two women inside a Kimlyn Circle townhouse in North Akron on April 18, 2013.
Rowlands informed the Ohio Supreme Court about her decision Tuesday afternoon in a letter to Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor.
Rowlands wrote that she was stepping aside because of the "complexity of the matter" and the "gravity of the issues involved."
The Summit County Prosecutor's Office said the case has been assigned to Common Pleas Judge Paul Gallagher. A status hearing was scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh released this statement:
"As prosecutors, we represent the victims' families and the community. It is our responsibility to protect the right to a fair trial for victims as well as the accused. Filing an Affidavit of Prejudice is a measure reserved for the most dire cases, and this is only the second time in 14 years that I have approved doing so. While we disagreed with the trial court's version of the events, we are confident that Judge Rowlands' decision today to step aside will help ensure that all parties will have a fair trial."
Haywood had been scheduled to go to trial last week for aggravated murder and other crimes in the shooting deaths of Ronald "Dutch" Roberts, 24; Kem Rashad Delaney, 23; Maria Nash, 19; and Roberts' girlfriend, Kiana "Kiki" Welch, 19.