Was suspected serial killer insane?

Zoe Greszler • Updated Mar 9, 2017 at 12:07 AM

ASHLAND — Defense attorneys are trying to convince a judge that suspected serial killer Shawn Grate was insane at the time he allegedly committed the crimes.

A video status conference took place Monday in Ashland County Common Pleas Court.

Prosecutors and the defense were supposed to provide the results of their experts' evaluations. However, defense attorneys Robert and Rolf Whitney asked for 30 more days, so Judge Ron Forsthoefel scheduled another video status conference for April 7, according to the Mansfield News Journal. They said their expert results were not available yet.

Grate, 40, of Ashland, is charged with 23 felony counts, including aggravated murder. If convicted of aggravated murder, he could receive the death penalty.

His trial is scheduled for Nov. 6.

Grate, who remains incarcerated in the Ashland County Jail, previously had been found competent to stand trial.

“These are some of the most horrific crimes I’ve seen in my 15 years as a criminal prosecutor,” Prosecutor Christopher Tunnell said previously. “Given these depraved actions and the gruesome evidence, I will be strongly recommending the death penalty if a jury finds this defendant guilty.”

Grate is accused of killing Ashland resident Elizabeth Griffith and Greenwich resident Stacey Stanley, the bodies of whom were found earlier this month in a vacant Ashland home. He was arrested after a third woman called 9-1-1, saying she had been abducted by Gates and was being held captive in the house.

The 23-count indictment filed against Grate accuses him, among other things, of kidnapping, robbing, raping and murdering Stanley (also known as Stacy Hicks) and then abusing her corpse.

During his interview with Ashland police, Grate provided information that led authorities to a woman’s remains in Richland County’s Madison Township. The remains, which have not been identified, were found in a ravine near a burned-out house.

Grate reportedly has confessed to another crime: the murder of a woman in Marion County between 2003 and 2005. Grate claims the woman, who has not yet been identified, was the first person he killed. A set of female skeletal remains were found in 2007 at a dumping site in that county.

Authorities are trying to determine if Grate is linked to other unsolved homicide cases in the area.

One involves Rebekah Leicy, whose body was found by a utility worker in March 2015 in Mifflin Township.

Here are the charges filed against Grate:

• Aggravated murder of Elizabeth A. Griffith (first-degree felony)

• Second charge of aggravated murder of Elizabeth A. Griffith (F1)

• Kidnapping of Elizabeth A, Griffith (F1)

• Gross abuse of the corpse of Elizabeth A. Griffith (F5)

• Burglary of the residence of Elizabeth A. Griffith (F3)

• Tampering with evidence (F3)

• Aggravated murder of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F1)

• Second charge of aggravated murder of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F1)

• Kidnapping of Stacey J. Hicks, aka: Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F1)

• Second charge of kidnapping of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F1)

• Rape of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F1)

• Aggravated robbery of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F1)

• Gross abuse of the corpse of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F5)

• Unauthorized use of a vehicle of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F5)

• Kidnapping of Jane Doe (F1)

• Rape of Jane Doe (F1)

• Second charge of rape of Jane Doe (F1)

• Third charge of rape of Jane Doe (F1)

• Robbery of Jane Doe (F3)

• Burglary (F3)

• Burglary (F3)

• Burglary (F3)

• Breaking and entering (F5)

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