MANSFIELD — Convicted killer Shawn Grate has been charged with the aggravated murders of two Richland County women — Rebekah Leicy and Candace Cunningham.
Grate was served a 14-count indictment from the Richland County Grand Jury on Thursday, two years to the day that he was initially arrested in Ashland.
Grate was arrested after a woman called 911 on Sept. 13, 2016, and told dispatchers she had been abducted. She was rescued by police at 363 Covert Court, and two women — Elizabeth Griffith, 29, and Stacey Stanley, 43 — were found dead in the house.
Grate is currently incarcerated in the Chillicothe Correctional Institute after a jury found Grate guilty of the aggravated murders of Griffith and Stanley. The jury recommended the death penalty for the case, which Judge Ronald P. Forsthoefel, Ashland County Common Pleas, accepted during a two-month trial in Ashland.
On Thursday, he entered not guilty pleas to all 14 charges during an arraignment in Richland County Common Pleas Court, according to the court docket.
Richland County Prosecutor Gary Bishop said his county’s case will not be a death penalty case.
"There are no aggravating circumstances alleged," Bishop said.
Six of the charges in the indictment pertain to Leicy, 31, who was found dead in Ashland County on March 16, 2015. According to the indictment, Leicy was kidnapped sometime between Jan. 1, 2015, and Feb. 6, 2015.
"The law allows us to charge in a time frame," Bishop said. "It does not require that we prove the offense was committed on a specific date."
Leicy was found in Mifflin Township near County Road 1908, west of County Road 1905. It was a near the location that Grate lived in a fort that he built in 2016, a year after Leicy’s body was found, according to testimony in the Ashland trial of Grate.
According to the indictment in the Richland County Case, Grate kidnapped and killed Candace Cunningham, 29, on June 6, 2016. Cunningham was found dead near a burned-down house on Ohio 430, near Mansfield, on Sept. 13, 2016, the same day Grate was arrested. The indictment alleges Grate burned down the house on June 20, 2016.
Grate’s case in Ashland County is on appeal, which was filed shortly after his sentencing in Ashland.
Police have said Grate admitted to killing Leicy and Cunningham, and a third unidentified woman in Marion, as well as Griffith and Stanley. The Marion woman’s remains were found in 2007 and Grate remains uncharged in that case.
— Dylan Sams can be reached at 419-281-0581, ext. 240, and email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@dylan__sams.