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23 felony charges against Shawn Grate in indictment; death penalty possible

Shawn Grate in court. (Source: WOIO)
Shawn Grate in court. (Source: WOIO)
Published: Sep. 22, 2016 at 7:45 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2016 at 1:40 AM EDT
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ASHLAND COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - Shawn Michael Grate was named in a 23 felony count indictment today following his arrest and alleged involvement in the murders of several women.

Grate, 40, was charged with the murders of two women in Ashland and entered a not guilty plea last week in court. Grate was arrested on Sept. 13 after a woman called police saying that he had abducted her. She was able to call 911 while he was sleeping.

Each of the two aggravated murder charges could be punishable by life imprisonment without parole or the death penalty. In addition to the charges that are eligible for the death penalty, the maximum prison sentence that could be given for conviction of all the crimes listed below is 166 years.

The indictment alleges a wide range of felony charges surrounding the murders of Elizabeth A. Griffith, Stacey J. Hicks, aka: Stacey J. Stanley, and the kidnapping of a woman who prosecutors are naming Jane Doe. Jane Doe was kidnapped and raped multiple times but escaped alive after calling 911.

The indictment also lays out a possible timeline for the murders.

Police say Grate kidnapped and murdered Elizabeth Griffith sometime between August 16th and September 13th of this year. According to the indictment, police also say he abused her corpse and burglarized her home.

Another felony count accuses Grate of tampering with evidence involving a key, a phone and Yahtzee game sheet.

The indictment says the 40-year-old kidnapped and murdered Stacey Stanley sometime between September 8th and 13th.

Charges in Stanley's case also include rape, robbery, abuse of a corpse and unauthorized use of her vehicle.

Prosecutor Christopher R. Tunnell led the Grand Jury investigation and will prosecute the case along with First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gary P. Bishop and Special Prosecutor Mark R. Weaver.

Here's a rundown of the counts:
1. Aggravated Murder of Elizabeth A. Griffith (F1)
2. Second charge of Aggravated Murder of Elizabeth A. Griffith (F1)
3. Kidnapping of Elizabeth A, Griffith (F1)
4. Gross Abuse of the Corpse of Elizabeth A. Griffith (F5)
5. Burglary of the residence of Elizabeth A. Griffith (F3)
6. Tampering with Evidence (F3)
7. Aggravated Murder of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F1)
8. Second charge of Aggravated Murder of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F1)
9. Kidnapping of Stacey J. Hicks, aka: Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F1)
10. Second charge of Kidnapping of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F1)
11. Rape of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F1)
12. Aggravated Robbery of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F1)
13. Gross Abuse of the Corpse of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F5)
14. Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley (F5)
15. Kidnapping of Jane Doe (F1)
16. Rape of Jane Doe (F1)
17. Second charge of Rape of Jane Doe (F1)
18. Third charge of Rape of Jane Doe (F1)
19. Robbery of Jane Doe (F3)
20. Burglary (F3)
21. Burglary (F3)
22. Burglary (F3)
23. Breaking and Entering (F5)

Ashland County has had only two death penalty eligible murders in the last 20 years. "These are some of the most horrific crimes I've seen in my 15 years as a criminal prosecutor," Tunnell said after the indictment was released. "Given these depraved actions and the gruesome evidence, I will be strongly recommending the death penalty if a jury finds this defendant guilty."

No trial date has been announced. A video arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 29 at 8:30 a.m.

Grate has waived his right to have his trial held within a set number of days. Grate remains in custody in the Ashland County jail.

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