Prosecutors make opening statements in Shawn Grate murder trial

ASHLAND, OH (WOIO) - Opening statements in the trial of accused serial killer Shawn Grate began Monday morning. He's suspected in the deaths of five different women, but he's charged with killing two in this case. Police found the bodies of Elizabeth Griffith and Stacey Stanley inside his home on Covert Court home in Ashland in September of 2016.

"This is not a whodunnit case. This is a he did it case," said Christopher Tunnell, Ashland County Prosecutor.

It took lawyers two weeks to clear a jury for this case. If he's convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Prosecutors spent a large part of their opening statements, laying out a timeline for the jury. They told them Grate broke into several campers in the summer of 2016, before befriending Elizabeth Griffith and Stacey Stanley. They described him going over to Griffith's apartment for a game of Yahtzee on the night of her death. They explained how he allegedly met Stanley when he offered to help her change a flat tire.

They also revealed some new, more graphic details, showing the court photographs of beds inside the home Grate was occupying, with restraints tied to the mattress. Although Grate did not rent or own the house, he admitted to acquaintances and friends that he had broken in and lived there for some time, according to prosecutors.

Additionally, prosecutors say Grate told them he had cell phone video of himself raping Stacey Stanley, just moments before he confessed to strangling her to death and hiding her body in the home's basement.

"The video will disclose and the evidence will reveal that Stacey Hicks was begging to be let go. 'Acting up' to this defendant is not doing exactly what he wants," said Tunnell.

Following opening statements, the prosecution called several witnesses to the stand, including the 911 operator who took the call of the woman Grate allegedly abducted, raped, and held in his home, tied down with restraints, while he went to sleep. The woman told police she managed to free herself and use Grate's cell phone to call for help.

In the 911 call, which prosecutors played for the jury, the woman is asked who abducted her. She responds, "Shawn Grate."

The prosecution also called a police officer and crime scene investigator to the stand. Forensic testimony is expected to continue into Tuesday morning.

Grate's lawyers waived their right to address the jury in opening statements, and have not yet laid out a defense strategy.

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