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  1. #11
    Senior Member CnCP Legend CharlesMartel's Avatar
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    Summit judge orders prosecutors to turn over emails in murder case in response to racism claims

    By Stephanie Warsmith
    The Akron Beacon-Journal

    A Summit County judge has ordered the prosecutor’s office to hand over emails on the Stanley Ford murder case in response to Ford’s attorneys claims of racism.

    Judge Christine Croce limited her order to the emails and other communication on the Ford case from the start of the investigation until five days after Ford was indicted in late July for starting fatal fires that left nine people dead.

    Croce said she will review the material and decide if any of it should be shared with Ford’s attorneys.

    Don Malarcik and Joe Gorman, Ford’s attorneys, are requesting that Croce dismiss the death penalty specification against Ford — who is African-American — because of the role race played in the decision to seek capital punishment.

    The attorneys cite research that shows the race of defendants and victims and where crimes are committed in Ohio play a key role in deciding whether defendants face the death penalty. They also point to former Akron Police Chief James Nice’s use of racial slurs, including the N-word, which was among the reasons the chief was forced to abruptly resign Aug. 27. Nice was the chief when Ford’s case was investigated and was among those who spoke at a July 27 news conference to announce Ford’s indictment.

    “James Nice is an admitted, overt racist,” Malarcik said Friday morning during a pretrial on the Ford case. “He advocated the death penalty … We have more than statistics. We have a man who was part of the team.”

    Malarcik said the number of African-Americans who have faced the death penalty in Summit County is disproportionate to the population. In Summit County, eight of the last 11 people indicted on charges with a death penalty specification have been black.

    “We believe that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Malarcik added.

    Prosecutors, however, are opposing the request to remove the death penalty. Chief Prosecutor Margaret Scott said defense attorneys haven’t provided proof that Ford is being treated differently from other defendants.

    “I am unaware of anyone else who is alleged to have murdered nine people by fire in Summit County,” Scott said.

    Malarcik and Gorman first raised the issue of racism and Nice’s alleged bias last month when they filed a motion to dismiss the death penalty specifications.

    Nice resigned after his nephew Joseph Nice, who was then facing criminal charges, told police that he had a videotape of his uncle using the N-word and said the chief was having an affair with a female Akron officer. The department’s leaders also learned that Chief Nice could face criminal charges related to his nephew’s used car business.

    Nice admitted using the racial slur and having an affair with an officer, but has denied any criminal wrongdoing.

    The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, at the request of the Summit County prosecutor, is investigating the accusations against Chief Nice. Charges were dropped against Joseph Nice, the chief’s nephew, who had faced three felonies related to his auto business.

    Malarcik and Gorman have requested emails and communication related to the Ford investigation from both the city of Akron and Summit County Prosecutor’s Office.

    The city initially objected to the request, but provided some information after the attorneys narrowed their request, Malarcik said Friday.

    The attorneys also want to get information from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office when it concludes its investigation into Nice, Malarcik said.

    As for the Summit County prosecutor’s emails, Malarcik requested Friday that an independent inquiry be done of the prosecutor’s computers to search for documents that include Ford’s name, arson, the addresses of the fires and certain racially insensitive terms. He said Croce could then review this information.

    “Racism in a death penalty case is toxic,” Malarcik said. “The community needs to know what part did Nice play in the prosecution of Ford in which they are seeking the death penalty. That’s what we’re asking.”

    Malarcik took offense to the assertion by prosecutors that the defense’s motion to dismiss should be denied and that prosecutors shouldn’t be required to provide the information the defense is requesting. He compared this to how a white Akron councilman recently told two African-American councilwomen to sit down and shut up.

    “We are not going to ‘sit down and shut up!’” Malarcik declared, throwing papers onto the desk in front of him.

    Croce declined to have an independent inquiry done and instead asked the prosecutor’s office to give directly to her all internal and external emails and written communication about Ford’s case by Nov. 10. She said she will look over what is provided and will have a discussion with both parties before turning anything over to the defense.

    This will be among the issues discussed in the next pretrial in the case, set for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 15.

    https://www.ohio.com/akron/news/loca...-racism-claims
    Last edited by Helen; 11-04-2017 at 06:18 PM. Reason: Fixed source at top

  2. #12
    Senior Member CnCP Legend CharlesMartel's Avatar
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    New court dates set in arson murder case; Stanley Ford accused of killing nine people in two fires

    By Stephanie Warsmith
    The Akron Beacon-Journal

    The latest status hearing for Stanley Ford, an Akron man accused of setting fires that killed nine neighbors, was much less eventful than the last time he was in court.

    In the prior hearing, Ford’s attorneys discussed their argument that racism played a part in Summit County’s decision to seek the death penalty against Ford.

    In Ford’s status hearing Friday morning, Ford’s attorneys and prosecutors met with Summit County Common Pleas Judge Christine Croce in her chambers, then emerged and said they were done for the day.

    The attorneys set court dates for the case that extend into April. No trial date has yet been set.

    Ford, 58, was indicted on 29 charges, 22 that are aggravated murder counts for the fire victims. The murder charges involve different parts of the law under which Ford was charged.

    Investigators say Ford set three fires in his neighborhood, with two people killed in one fire and seven perishing in the other, including five children. The third was a car fire with no injuries.

    Ford is being held in the Summit County Jail without bond.

    Joe Gorman and Don Malarcik, Ford’s attorneys, have asked Croce to dismiss the death penalty specification against Ford — who is African-American — because of the role race played in the decision to seek capital punishment. They cite research that shows the race of defendants and victims and where crimes are committed in Ohio play a key role in deciding whether defendants face the death penalty.

    The attorneys also point to former Akron Police Chief James Nice’s use of racial slurs, including the N-word, which was among the reasons the chief was forced to abruptly resign Aug. 27. Nice was the chief when Ford’s case was investigated and was among those who spoke at a news conference to announce Ford’s indictment.

    Croce has ordered Summit County prosecutors to hand over emails on the Ford case because of the racism claims.

    The next court dates for Ford are: Feb. 23 for a status hearing; March 13 for a suppression hearing on Ford’s oral statements, and April 24 for a hearing on death-penalty motions.

    https://www.ohio.com/akron/news/loca...e-in-two-fires

  3. #13
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Defense: Exclude suspect's comments at trial for fatal fires

    By Associated Press

    AKRON, Ohio – Attorneys for an Ohio man charged in two fires that killed nine people on his street say his statements to police should be excluded at trial in the potential death penalty case.

    Fifty-eight-year-old Stanley Ford, of Akron, has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder charges in an April 2016 fire that killed two adults, and a May 2017 blaze that killed two adults and five children.

    The Akron Beacon Journal reports investigators questioned Ford seven times. A judge is considering whether Ford's statements should be excluded at trial, which hasn't been scheduled.

    Defense attorneys argue Ford wasn't properly advised of his rights, was improperly questioned and didn't voluntarily give his statements to police.

    Prosecutors say detectives followed the right procedures. They claim Ford talked with investigators to learn what they knew.

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/03/14...tal-fires.html
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

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    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    “Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
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  4. #14
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    Attorneys think Akron man should have separate trials for two fatal fires he is accused of setting that claimed nine lives; trial date set for Sept. 4

    By Stephanie Warsmith
    The Akron Beacon-Journal

    Defense attorneys think Stanley Ford should have separate trials for the two fires he is accused of setting that claimed nine lives.

    Attorney Joe Gorman said during a hearing Tuesday that he and Scott Rilley, the other lawyer appointed to the case, are working on a motion to sever. The attorneys think Ford’s right to a fair trial would be prejudiced by deciding the two death penalty cases together.

    Summit County Common Pleas Judge Christine Croce set a hearing on the issue for 9 a.m. June 22. She also asked defense attorneys and prosecutors to file briefs before the hearing.

    Croce heard arguments on numerous motions in the case Tuesday and set a trial date for Sept. 4 — the first time a trial date has been chosen in the high-profile case.

    Ford, 59, was indicted last July on 29 charges, including 22 counts of aggravated murder for the nine fire deaths. The murder charges involve different parts of the law under which Ford was charged.

    Investigators say Ford set three fires in his neighborhood, with two people killed in one fire and seven perishing in another, including five children. The third was a car fire with no injuries.

    Ford is being held in the Summit County Jail without bond.

    Croce listened to arguments Tuesday on numerous motions filed by defense attorneys. On some, she took the matter under advisement, while she ruled on others. These included:

    • Speaking with Ford: Croce granted a motion that prosecutors not be permitted to talk to Ford. Assistant Prosecutor Margaret Scott said prosecutors don’t plan to speak to Ford, though she said Ford is “free to discuss his case with other people” in the jail. She said the “burden is on him.”

    • On-the-record: Croce granted motions to require that all motions be heard on the record and sidebar discussions between the judge and attorneys be recorded.

    • Alternate jurors: Croce denied a defense request that alternate jurors be dismissed before deliberations begin. She said the alternate jurors will be sequestered during deliberations in case any issues arise and their service is needed.

    • Change of venue: Croce said it’s too early to determine whether an unbiased jury can be assembled in Summit County.

    “If it becomes apparent we are unable to achieve this, you can renew your motion,” Croce told the attorneys.

    During the June 22 hearing, Croce also will take up an issue raised by defense attorneys about whether Ford should be permitted to be in court without restraints during pretrial proceedings. Gorman said media are attending these proceedings and images showing Ford in restraints could taint future jurors. Prosecutors, however, objected.

    “It’s no secret that Stanley Ford is in jail,” Scott said. “These charges are very serious. We would ask for the safety of the community that he be restrained.”

    Gorman pointed out that two deputies stand near Ford during every proceeding.

    Croce scheduled a hearing for 9:30 a.m. July 10 on the issue of whether the death-penalty specification should be removed from the case because of racial bias, with defense attorneys pointing to alleged racial slurs made by former Akron Police Chief James Nice. Nice was the chief when Ford’s case was investigated.

    Croce and the attorneys hashed out a planned timeline for the trial that starts with initial questionnaires being mailed to a pool of 350 potential jurors, with jury selection starting in early August and lasting about a month. Jurors will get a week off before the trial begins. A final pretrial is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. July 27.

    If the jury finds Ford guilty, the sentencing phase is set to begin Oct. 22.

    https://www.ohio.com/akron/news/loca...set-for-sept-4
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  5. #15
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    Trial or trials for Akron man accused of setting 2 fatal fires won’t start until early next year; judge grants delay

    By Stephanie Warsmith
    The Akron Beacon-Journal

    Regardless of how many trials Stanley Ford has for the fatal fires he is accused of setting, he won’t have his day in court until next year.

    A Summit County judge agreed Friday to delay the start of Ford’s capital murder trial, set to begin with jury selection in early August, until mid-January.

    Judge Christine Croce also heard arguments about whether Ford should have separate trials for the arson fires that claimed nine lives. Defense attorneys claim Ford’s fair trial rights would be prejudiced by lumping the charges together.

    “When dealing with the death penalty, death is different,” said Scott Rilley, one of Ford’s attorneys. “The law requires more due process. A death penalty case is not business and usual.”

    Prosecutors, however, say cases involving defendants charged with multiple offense are routinely tried in Summit County. They also said there are similarities between the fires that tie them together, but separate evidence for each that would make it easy for jurors to distinguish them.

    Croce plans to continue to further research the severance issue and rule on it at a later date.

    Ford, 59, was indicted last July on 29 charges, including 22 counts of aggravated murder. The murder charges involve different parts of the law under which Ford was charged. He is being held in the Summit County Jail without bond.

    Investigators say Ford set three fires in his neighborhood, with two people killed in one fire and seven — including five children — perishing in another. The third was a car fire with no injuries.

    In each case, prosecutors say, Ford had a “beef” with his neighbors.

    Defense attorneys Rilley and Joe Gorman filed the motion to sever the cases last month. They argued the arson cases are “separate and distinct” and to try the cases together would violate Ford’s due-process rights. They pointed to studies that looked at the impact of a trial with joined charges on the jury’s perception of the defendant.

    “Across the board, a defendant was perceived as more dangerous, less likable, and less believable when presented with multiple charges than when presented with either charge individually,” Rilley said in court documents.

    The sheer number of charges against Ford would be prejudicial and could bolster the prosecution’s case and cause jurors to confuse the incidents, Rilley said.

    Prosecutors, however, said the arsons are similar and part of a “common scheme or plan,” which means they can be joined. They said having one trial would save time and money.

    “The reasons there are multiple charges is there are multiple victims,” Chief Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Margaret Scott said in court documents. “Charges have been filed and are appropriate in each instance. Under the defense theory that multiple counts in the indictment are unduly prejudicial, no less than 29 trials would be necessary.”

    Defense attorneys would like to see three trials — one for each of the fires — though they acknowledge two trials may be more realistic.

    Croce said she hasn’t been able to find a death penalty case in which the question of the need for separate trials arose. She pointed to Craigslist killer Richard Beasley of Akron and Anthony Sowell, a Cleveland serial killer, as capital cases involving multiple deaths in which the issue of separate trials wasn’t raised. Both men are on Ohio’s death row.

    “I think I could rule either way and be factually and legally sound,” she said. “The question is: Is actual prejudice shown?”

    Croce cautioned the attorneys that there are issues for them to consider if she decides more than one trial is warranted. She said it could be possible, if she grants more than one trial, that she would still permit evidence of the other fires to be presented during the trial. She said prosecutors would have to decide which incident to try first.

    Croce also addressed the issue of a handwritten motion filed by Ford that asked her to dismiss the charges against him. The judge said the motion had no legal basis and she admonished Ford that he wasn’t representing himself and she wouldn’t allow him to if he asked because he faces death. She asked him to go through his attorneys in the future.

    The new schedule for Ford’s case puts the start of jury selection on Jan. 15, with the trial beginning Feb. 11. It’s expected to up to six weeks. If Ford is convicted, the sentencing phase would follow, potentially taking the case through March.

    Prior to that, a status conference will be held July 10 to discuss whether Ford should be permitted to be in court without handcuffs during pretrials and July 27 to explore the argument of defense attorneys that the death penalty specifications should be dismissed because of alleged racial discrimination.

    https://www.ohio.com/akron/news/loca...e-grants-delay
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  6. #16
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    Akron man accused of setting fatal fires to have one capital trial, judge rules

    By Stephanie Warsmith
    Beacon Journal/Ohio.com

    An Akron man accused of setting fires that left nine of his neighbors dead will have only one capital trial, not two.

    Summit County Common Pleas Judge Christine Croce denied a request from defense attorneys that Stanley Ford be tried separately for the fatal fires.

    “This court does not find a serious risk that a joint trial of the three arsons would prevent the jury from making a reliable judgment about guilt or innocence,” Croce said in her ruling, released Thursday.

    Ford, 59, was indicted last July on 29 charges, including 22 counts of aggravated murder, and faces the death penalty. The murder charges involve different parts of the law under which Ford was charged. He is being held at the Summit County Jail without bond.

    Investigators say Ford set three fires in his neighborhood, with two people killed in one fire and seven — including five children — perishing in the other. The third was a car fire with no injuries.

    In each case, prosecutors say Ford had a “beef” with his neighbors.

    Defense attorneys Scott Rilley and Joe Gorman filed a motion to sever the cases in May arguing the two fatal arson cases are “separate and distinct” and trying the cases together would violate Ford’s due process rights. They pointed to studies that looked at the impact of a trial with joined charges on the jury’s perception of the defendant.

    Prosecutors, however, said the arsons are similar and part of a “common scheme or plan,” which means they can be tried together. They also said having one trial would save time and money.

    Croce sided with prosecutors, saying they overcame the defense’s claim of prejudice by pointing out the evidence presented in the trial “relates to different victims in different dates at different locations and can reasonably be separated as to each offense.”

    Croce also has denied a request from Ford’s attorneys to dismiss the death penalty specification because of alleged racial and geographical bias.

    Defense attorneys asked Croce to remove the death penalty specifications because of the role they say race played in the decision to seek capital punishment. They cited research that shows the race of defendants and victims and where crimes are committed in Ohio play a key role in deciding whether defendants face the death penalty.

    The attorneys also pointed to former Akron Police Chief James Nice’s alleged racial bias, which was among the issues raised when Nice resigned in August 2017. Nice was the chief when Ford’s case was investigated and was among those who spoke at a news conference to announce Ford’s indictment.

    Croce said in her ruling that Nice had no input in regard to the charges filed against Ford. She said the study cited by defense attorneys “does not show that racial motivation influence the decision” on charges against Ford.

    Croce, however, said the attorneys may raise the racial bias issue again if they find additional evidence to support their claim.

    During a hearing Friday morning, Croce and the attorneys discussed deadlines for objections on the wording of jury questionnaires and expert defense reports.

    Croce checked in with Ford to make sure he was satisfied with his attorneys and was being treated well at the jail.

    “Everything is all good,” he told her.

    The next pretrial is scheduled for Dec. 19. Jury selection will begin Jan. 15, with the trial set to start Feb. 11. It’s expected to last six weeks.

    https://www.ohio.com/news/20181026/a...al-judge-rules
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    “There are some people who just do not deserve to live,”
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    “Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  7. #17
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    Trial of man accused of setting 2 fatal fires delayed after evaluation shows he might have brain damage

    By Stephanie Warsmith
    The Akron Beacon-Journal

    The trial of an Akron man accused of setting two fires that killed nine people has been delayed after an evaluation showed he might have brain damage.

    Jury selection in Stanley Ford’s capital trial was scheduled to start Tuesday, with the trial expected to begin in mid-February.

    Summit County Common Pleas Judge Christine Croce granted a request from Ford’s attorneys Friday morning to postpone the start of the trial to allow for time for the newly discovered potential mental issues to be explored.

    The delay means the start of Ford’s trial likely will be postponed for at least six months, court officials said.

    “We appreciate the court’s patience,” Joe Gorman, one of Ford’s attorneys, said during what was supposed to be Ford’s final pretrial Friday morning.

    Defense attorneys are requesting that the death penalty be removed from Ford’s case because of the alleged mental issues.

    Prosecutors say Ford, 59, set three fires in his neighborhood, with two people killed in one fire and seven – including five children – perishing in the other. The third was a car fire with no injuries.

    In each case, prosecutors say Ford had a beef with his neighbors.

    Ford is facing the death penalty and is being held at the Summit County Jail without bond.

    Scott Rilley, Ford’s second attorney, and Gorman filed a motion Friday morning that argued executing Ford would be a violation of the Eight Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment and excessive sanctions.

    The attorneys said an MRI of Ford on Dec. 17 found he suffers from major vascular neurocognitive dementia, resulting in cognitive impairment, and has “irreversible brain damage that will progressively worsen with time,” according to the motion.

    The attorneys said the U.S. Supreme Court has prohibited the execution of people who are intellectually disabled and pointed to several rulings by the high court.

    Vascular dementia is caused by a reduced blood flow to the brain, often resulting from a stroke or small blood vessel disease. The condition is progressive and has no FDA-approved treatment, according to the motion.

    The motion doesn’t say what caused Ford’s condition. The parties are barred from discussing the case because of a gag order.

    Psychological testing found a decline in Ford’s “frontal-executive functioning.” Lesions were detected on Ford’s brain, particularly on the frontal lobes that are associated with morality and criminal behavior, the attorneys said.

    “Stanley Ford’s mental disability has already begun and will continue in a progressive manner to cause a diminished capacity to understand and process information, to communicate, to learn from experience, to engage in logical reasoning, to control impulses, and to understand the reactions of others,” the attorneys said. “His mental condition will never improve and will continue to deteriorate over the course of time.”

    The attorneys included several studies with their motion, including a 2015 study by three doctors that said vascular dementia can cause memory impairment, mood disorders and issues with balance, coordination, problem solving, thinking, reasoning, planning and the ability to perform tasks.

    Another study, published in January 2018, found that brain lesions can cause previously normal patients to exhibit criminal behavior. The study points to famous examples of “acquired sociopathy” such as Phineas Gage, who developed antisocial personality changes after an iron rod went through his head, and Charles Whitman, who murdered 16 people following the growth of a brain tumor.

    Before Ford was arrested for the arson fires, he had faced no criminal charges for 29 years. Earlier in his life, though, he did run afoul of the law.

    When Ford was 18, he and another man were convicted of robbing a man and woman and raping the woman. Ford was sentenced to 15 to 75 years in prison. It’s unclear when Ford was released, but he was charged with drug trafficking in 1988, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison.

    Since then, besides traffic tickets, Ford was a law-abiding citizen until he was arrested for the fatal arsons in May 2017.

    The court had already issued summons to 350 potential jurors and started excusing people because of conflicts. The remaining jurors were expected to answer questionnaires and begin individual questioning on Tuesday.

    In court Friday, Croce, Ford and the attorneys had a brief, off-the-record discussion about the attorney’s motion regarding Ford’s alleged mental condition.

    When they returned to court, Croce announced that she was continuing the trial. She said the new findings raise factual and legal questions and prosecutors need time to consult their own medical experts. She said she wanted to “ensure a fair and impartial trial.”

    Croce ordered that Gorman and Rilley have their experts submit reports by Feb. 1. A status hearing will be held Feb. 15, the same week when the trial was scheduled to begin.

    The jurors who had been summonsed will be released, with a new pool drawn when the trial proceeds. Information provided by the jurors will be shredded, Croce said.

    Croce said Gorman and Rilley kept her and assistant prosecutors Brian LoPrinzi and Joe Dangelo, who is newly appointed to the case, apprised of the medical findings.

    “No one has accused that they sat on information,” she said. “This has been a fluid and ongoing process since the third week of December. The defense has been diligent in its effort to bring information to all parties.”

    https://www.ohio.com/news/20190111/t...e-brain-damage
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