Jurors Ready In Bellaire Murder
ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Jury selection is complete in the trial of Devin Wayne Fuller, one of two men accused in the rape and murder of an elderly Bellaire woman in 2012.
After getting today and the weekend off, the jurors will return for opening statements at 8:45 a.m. Monday before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John M. Solovan II. The presentation of evidence is expected to continue into Wednesday.
Fuller, 20, is charged with aggravated murder committed in the course of rape, aggravated burglary and trespassing. He and Brandon Michael Phelps, 21, both Bellaire residents, are accused of killing 92-year-old Lydia Ashworth after breaking into her Fourth Avenue home in June 2012.
If convicted, Fuller could face the death penalty.
The 12 jurors and two alternates were selected from a pool of 150 potential jurors during an eight-day selection process.
Solovan gave the potential jurors initial instructions during the final selection phase.
“Our purpose is to obtain a fair and impartial jury. The state of Ohio and the defendant are entitled to jurors who approach this case with open minds and agree to keep their minds open until the verdict is reached,” he said.
Paul Scarsella of the Ohio Attorney General’s office gave instructions as to what constitutes reasonable doubt and pointed out factors the jurors will analyze, including the quality of evidence and reliability of witnesses.
Defense attorneys said the purpose of a trial is not to solve the crime but only to determine if the state has met its burden and established the elements of the crime. They also described the process by which evidence is processed and can be interpreted.
Fuller and Phelps were charged with Ashworth’s murder following a three-month investigation.
Fuller was arrested Oct. 3, 2012, at the restaurant in Wheeling where he had been employed. Phelps was already behind bars on an unrelated theft charge when the murder charge against him was filed.
Phelps is scheduled to go on trial March 31.