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Man accused of Tappan Lake murder appears in court for pretrial

CADIZ–The Hopewell man charged in the murder of a Zanesville woman appeared in Harrison County Court for a pretrial hearing Tuesday morning.

Larry J. Smith, 63, of 150 County Line Road, Hopewell appeared before Judge T. Shawn Hervey in Harrison County Common Pleas Court via video confernece. Smith is facing charges of murder, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.

Smith is accused of the murder of 37-year-old Lorie Storie, whose body was disovered in late February in Tappan Lake. Law enforcement ruled Storie’s death a homicide following the results of an autopsy when it was reported she had been “brutally” beaten before being thrown into the lake.

Smith has pleaded innocent to the charges.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Bruzzese said the state had submitted the 39-item discovery pack that was requested by the defense. However, Smith’s attorney, Benjamin Whitacre, said the defense had not yet received the information.

“This case allegedly happened in February, the defendant was indicted in April and we’re now into October and I have 39 things I’m still looking to get from the state of Ohio. It’s very frustrating for me representing the defendant and it’s very frustrating for my client. He wants to see the information, and obviously I want to see the information,” Whitacre said.

Whitacre requested the court order the state to comply with the defendant’s request for discovery within 30 days.

Bruzzese said the state is trying its best to comply with the defendant’s request. Some of the defense’s requested items are not the state’s duty to obtain and are of public record, he said, but his office is attempting to obtain them for the defense regardless.

“I think it’s pretty disingenuous of the defense to assert that we’re somehow prejudicing their case by not doing an investigation for them,” Bruzzese told the judge. “The 911 call, for example, is public record. If the defense needed that, they could have easily gotten that. Now I, in this case as I do in every case, am trying my best to cooperate. We’re trying to get him the information he has requested in this list, but police reports are public record, he can get those; 911 calls are public record, he can get those. I’m doing his work for him, and that’s fine. My goal is to move a case along and let’s either get it resolved or go to trial.”

Hervey said 30 days is a reasonable time frame for the state to complete the discovery request for the defense.

“I think 30 days is reasonable for the stuff that the state can comply with and for the things you have an objectiion for, we can probably set a hearing to see what they are and what the argument on both sides is and the court would have to make a ruling because this isn’t something that we cannot have a resolution on all outstanding issues on — this is a murder case. When it’s a murder case, you don’t want to leave anyting unattended or not dealt with,” Hervey said.

Bruzzese said he is not refusing to disclose any information to the defense.

“Whatever we have will be turned over,” he said. “There’s a list that was provided to us by the defense requesting things that we don’t have in a file. We are trying, in good faith, to obtain that information,” he said.

Hervey granted the state 30 additional days to comply with the discovery request.

“The order is going to be 30 days for the things the state believes they have a duty to disclose. I would also request that if they believe they don’t have a duty to disclose specific items, that they go ahead and file a response to the defense’s specific request for discovery and on those disputed items, once I receive a response from the state, I will set a hearing on that matter and I expect that would be sooner rather than later. I’d like to have that hearing sometime this year … so we can keep this case moving,” he said.

Smith remains lodged in the Jefferson County Jail in lieu of $2 million bond.

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