Ohio serial killer Shawn Grate was found guilty of two murders Monday, as well as the kidnapping and sexual assault of an escaped victim who called 911.
A jury deliberated for more than three hours before finding Grate, 41, guilty of murdering Elizabeth Griffith, 29, and Stacey Stanley, 43, as well as other crimes.
He faces life in prison without parole or the death penalty. The sentencing part of Grate's trial begins May 18.
Grate's lawyers said he was not guilty by reason of insanity. But Judge Ronald Forsthoefel of the Ashland County Court of Common Pleas said psychiatric evaluations showed otherwise.
In an interview with The Daily Mail, Grate's mother Theresa McFarland emphasized his charisma.
“He’s good looking but the Devil’s good looking too,” she said. “He ain’t no red horns and all that stuff. You find out he’s charming and of course that charm can charm the pants off anybody, not to be nasty, but you just know how it works.”
Grate was caught by police in September 2016 after one of his victims briefly escaped restraints and called 911. The victim had been tied to Grate's bed and repeatedly sexually assaulted. When law enforcement arrived at the decrepit Ashland house, they discovered two decomposing bodies of women who had been strangled to death. The bodies were later identified as Griffith and Hicks; the surviving victim has not been named.
After his arrest, Grate bragged to television stations that he had killed five women, according to The Washington Post. Police are investigating his claims and searching for the three other possible victims: Rebekah Leicy and Candice Cunningham, who were killed in 2016, and an unidentified woman killed around 2005.
In court, prosecutor Chris Tunnell was clear about the stakes of the trial.
“This isn’t a who-done-it case,” said Tunnell in his opening statement, according to News 5 in Cleveland. “This is a he-done-it case.”
"This is not a spur-of-the-moment killing," Tunnell added as a characterization of Grate's actions, according to NBC News. "Take a broad view of the evidence. What do you know of this victim? Listen to what he says. Look at what he did."
[Photo: Ashland County Sheriff Department]
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