ST. CLAIRSVILLE - A death penalty trial will commence this week, after the death of 92-year-old Lydia Ashworth, found dead in her home in West Bellaire after what Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk previously called the crime a "brutal killing" committed during a burglary 2012.
Devin Wayne Fuller, 20, 3567 Franklin St., Bellaire, will go to trial before Common Pleas judge John M. Solovan II. He and Brandon Michael Phelps, 21, 1281 Birch St., Bellaire, are charged with four counts of aggravated murder, committed in the course of rape, of aggravated burglary, burglary and trespassing. Each count of murder carries a death penalty specification.
After months of investigation, Fuller was arrested in Ohio County on a Fugitive from Justice warrant out of Belmont County and extradicted to Belmont. He was arraigned in October of 2012 and bond set at $1 million.
The jury selection process began Thursday, with the interviewing process to continue this week. Once jury selection is complete, testimony will begin.
Fuller appeared regularly in court during the months leading up to the trial. Officials from the prosecutor's office noted that in a case involving the death penalty added training and attorney representation is called for. Fuller had met with a forensic psychiatrist and it was arranged that the scene be available for jury viewing if necessary. Counsel reviewed the status of lab reports as well as information from BCI&I and noted the information sharing process.
Members of the victims' family sat in on each of the hearings to view the process and await the facts of the matter come come to light in the aftermath of a crime that shocked the community.
DeFrank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org