Fuller makes appearance

ST. CLAIRSVILLE Devin Wayne Fuller, 19, 3567 Franklin St., Bellaire appeared before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John M. Solovan II Friday for a pre-trial. Trial may take place February and plans for finalization are underway.

He and Brandon Michael Phelps, 20, 1281 Birch St., Bellaire, are charged with four counts of aggravated murder, committed in the course of rape, of aggravated burglary, of burglary and of trespassing. Each count carries a death penalty specification. Both face two additional counts of trespassing. The crimes are alleged to have taken place June 29-30. The victim, Lydia Ashworth, was found dead in her home.

Prosecutor Chris Berhalter represented the state. Defense Attorneys Kirk McVay and William Mooney represented Fuller.

Berhalter relayed a report from the attorney general’s office that lab tests are complete and the final report will be shared with defense.

He reported complying with other discovery requests from the defense counsel.

Defense will seek to retain an expert in the field of DNA analysis to review the work done on behalf of the state.

Motions could be prepared for filing Aug. 16. Solovan suggested starting the trial Feb. 18 and review of juror questionnaires on Feb. 13-14.

Fuller’s next pre-trial conference was set for Sept. 13, 1 p.m. Afterward, hearings will be held monthly as the trial date approaches.

DeFrank can be reached online at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com