Judge rules 1 trial for man charged with killing 9 in fires

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A man accused of killing nine people in two arson fires in Ohio will have a single trial, a judge has ruled.

Attorneys for defendant Stanley Ford argued he should have separate trials for the fatal fires in his Akron neighborhood.

One fire killed two adults in April 2016. The second killed two adults and five children in May 2017.

Ford, who could face the death penalty if convicted, has pleaded not guilty. His attorneys have said he maintains his innocence.

A Summit County Common Pleas judge rejected the request for separate trials in a ruling released this past week, the Akron Beacon Journal reported .

Judge Christine Croce said in her ruling that she didn’t find a serious risk that a joint trial “would prevent the jury from making a reliable judgment about guilt or innocence.”

Ford, 59, was indicted in July 2017 on 29 charges including multiple counts of aggravated murder. He is being held in the Summit County Jail without bond.

Prosecutors have alleged Ford had a “beef” with neighbors in each case.

Defense attorneys Scott Rilley and Joe Gorman filed a motion to sever the cases in May arguing the two fatal arson cases are “separate and distinct” and trying the cases together would violate Ford’s due process rights.

Prosecutors, however, said the arson cases are similar and part of a “common scheme or plan,” which means they can be tried together.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Jan. 15, with the trial set to start Feb. 11.

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Information from: Akron Beacon Journal, http://www.ohio.com

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