ASHLAND COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - Accused serial killer Shawn Grate's attorney withdrew his client's plea of not guilty by reason of insanity in a trial for the deaths of women in Ashland County.
Grate refused to appear for the hearing. An officer said it was because his attorney was making the plea change for him. His attorney said he met with Grate on April 3 and his client signed a motion statement withdrawing his insanity plea.
Grate could receive the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole if convicted. A trial for the murder charges is planned for Nov. 6, 2017.
Attorneys for suspected serial killer Shawn Grate filled paperwork claiming the 40-year-old charged with two counts of murder in Ashland County is not guilty by reason of insanity in December.
Grate was indicted on a total of 23 counts in connection to the murders of Stacey Stanley and Elizabeth Griffin. Preliminary autopsy results show both women were strangled.
The indictment included the kidnapping and rape of another woman who managed to escape an Ashland home thought to be vacant and called 911 for help. Grate was arrested Sept. 13 after the woman escaped.
During an interview with Cleveland 19 in October, Grate previously said, "I admitted it. I told my attorney that if he said ['not guilty'] again in court that I'd speak up."
After the interview, a gag order was requested and approved by a judge in October. The order prohibits Grate, witnesses, and anyone involved in the case from speaking to the media, even after the trial has concluded -- unless later lifted by a judge. Grate has also been charged for the 2015 death of Rebekah Leicy, of Mansfield, whose body was found in the woods in Ashland County. The death of an unidentified woman in Marion County discovered in 2005 is also being linked to Grate.
Grate also led police after being arrested Sept. 13 to a body behind a vacant home at 1027 Park Ave. East in Mansfield. The victim was identified as Candice Cunningham, Grate's ex-girlfriend.
A woman who said she dated Shawn Grate for about five years said there was something about him that made your skin crawl.
She said it was little weird things he said. Christina Hildreth said the behavior wasn't the normal thinking of someone that's angry.
"More like evil," she said. READ MORE HERE.
Possible serial killer Shawn Grate spoke from the Ashland County Jail in October and he opened up about himself and his victims.
"Oh yeah, I wanted to be caught. I thought about turning myself in," Shawn Michael Grate said from inside jail walls Oct. 7. After he was arrested and charged for the death of two women with charges pending for three other victims, the suspected serial killer told the world about his crimes. READ MORE HERE.
- Q&A from jail: Shawn Grate says his victims didn't want to live
- Shawn Grate says he's only half remorseful for deaths of 5 women
- Surveillance video shows accused serial killer Shawn Grate's life behind bars
- Suspected serial killer Shawn Grate pleads not guilty
- INTERACTIVE TIMELINE: 5 bodies found in 3 NE Ohio counties
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