Alleged killers appear in court

WHEELING – Devin Fuller, one of two men accused of murdering an elderly woman in her Bellaire home in June, will appear before a Belmont County judge this morning after he waived his right to an extradition hearing in Ohio County Tuesday.

Fuller appeared with chief public defender Shayne Welling before Ohio County Circuit Judge James Mazzone on Wednesday – one week after the 19-year-old Bellaire resident was arrested in Wheeling and booked into the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville.

“I’m waiving my right to extradition,” Fuller told Mazzone.

Belmont County authorities took custody of Fuller around 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, about four hours after he appeared before Mazzone. He was subsequently transported back to Ohio and booked into the Belmont County Jail in St. Clairsville.

Fuller will appear from the jail during a video arraignment at 7:30 a.m. today before Eastern Division Court Judge John Vavra, a court official said. He is expected to enter an innocent plea to a charge of aggravated murder, announce his intention regarding legal representation and receive a future court date.

Fuller’s co-defendant, Brandon Phelps, will appear with public defender Eric Costine during a preliminary hearing before Vavra at 8:30 a.m. today, the court official said. Phelps, 20, of Bellaire is also charged with aggravated murder.

If convicted, both men could receive the death penalty.

Phelps was already being held in the Belmont County Jail on an unrelated charge when law enforcement on Oct. 3 served him with a warrant charging aggravated murder. Wheeling police arrested Fuller without incident the same day at a National Road restaurant where he reportedly was employed.

The charges came following a joint investigation by the Bellaire police and Belmont County sheriff’s departments.

On June 30, 92-year-old Lydia Ashworth was found dead inside her 124 Fourth Ave. home by a family member who became concerned after not being able to get in touch with her.

Law enforcement agencies have released few details about the murder, but have said Ashworth’s killer entered through the rear of the home and that robbery was the apparent motive.