Jury Can’t Decide on Death

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John M. Solovan II will decide the sentence for Devin Wayne Fuller after a jury tasked with considering sentencing options – including the death penalty – became “irreconcilably deadlocked.”

The death penalty had been an option for the jury, but is no longer a consideration as it can only be imposed by a unanimous jury. After meeting for deliberation Tuesday and Wednesday, the jury returned with a split decision.

Now, it is up to Solovan to decide Fuller’s sentence from one of three choices: Life with the possibility for parole in 25 years, life with the possibility for parole in 30 years or life without the possibility of parole.

“You have given it your all,” Solovan told the jurors. “These are difficult decisions and you have handled them in an admirable manner.”

Prosecutor Dan Fry also commended the jury for their handling of the capital murder case – a rarity, he said.

Last week, the jury returned three guilty verdicts against Fuller, 21, of 3567 Franklin St., Bellaire, for his involvement in the June 30, 2012 murder of Lydia Ashworth, 92, inside her West Bellaire home. He was found guilty of one count of aggravated murder committed in the course of aggravated burglary, one count of aggravated burglary and one count of burglary. The jury delivered one not guilty verdict for the charge of aggravated murder committed in the course of rape.

In the charge of aggravated murder committed in the course of aggravated burglary, the jury found Fuller had committed murder in an effort to avoid arrest, but did not find that Fuller was the primary assailant or acted with premeditation.

Fuller’s co-defendant in the trial, Brandon Michael Phelps, 1281 Birch St., Bellaire is set to stand trial for his involvement in the case March 31, with jury selection beginning March 27. Prosecutors had previously stated the outcome of Fuller’s trial would have no effect on Phelps’ trial.