Judge holds hearing ahead of Shawn Grate murder trial closing statements

ASHLAND, OH (WOIO) - On Friday, lawyers for the prosecution and Shawn Grate met with Judge Ron Forsthoefel in an Ashland County courtroom, to discuss final jury instructions ahead of closing statements on Monday.

At the hearing, Grate officially waived his right to a jury trial on 15 out of 23 original charges, ranging from rape to burglary and abuse of a corpse. He pleaded guilty to those charges Wednesday.

He did not plead guilty to the two murders of which he is accused in this case. He confessed to police that he strangled Elizabeth Griffith and Stacey Stanley to death in 2016, then hid their bodies in a home where he was squatting on Covert Court.

Before deciding to change his plea on the other charges, jurors heard eight days of testimony, including from a woman who testified Grate abducted and raped her for two days, before she called 911 and managed to escape.

At Friday's hearing, Judge Forsthoefel and the lawyers talked about how to instruct the jury, so they would not be prejudiced by that testimony when rendering their verdict on the aggravated murder charges. Those charges could give Grate the death penalty, if he is convicted.

The judge also granted $2,000 to defense lawyers, who had requested a larger sum to use on brain scans. Grate had an MRI performed before, but his lawyers had requested a new one. These findings could be presented during a penalty phase of the trial.

Opening statements will begin at 9 A.M. Monday. Juror deliberations are expected to start shortly after that.

Copyright 2018 WOIO. All rights reserved.