Judge asks prosecutors, defense to explain charges

LISBON – After the jury dispersed for the day Monday, Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge C. Ashley Pike asked both the prosecutors and defense to explain the rationale for parts of the three charges before he somewhat reluctantly made the decision to give all three to the jury today.

Christopher Miller is charged with aggravated murder, murder and tampering with evidence. As is common practice, defense attorney Jennifer Gorby asked the court to consider finding that the prosecutor’s office had not met its burden on the charges, especially the aggravated murder charge.

To prove aggravated murder, Gamble said in citing a precedent-setting case, some of the things to make it a valid charge include whether the accused and the victim knew each other, whether there was prior calculation in selection of the murder weapon or the murder site and whether the death was drawn out as opposed to a sudden murder like someone pulling out a gun and shooting.

Gamble said there is little doubt Bailey and Miller knew each other. Miller was the one driving the vehicle so he selected the site and someone being struck not less than 30 times by an instrument Miller brought with him would qualify the murder as an aggravated murder.

Additionally, Gamble said Miller chose the site because it was near his home and Colon was expecting him at home.

Gorby disagreed stating there has been no evidence presented that Miller knew the area, had ever been there before or that he planned to kill Bailey. She also stated none of the state’s witnesses gave any indication or even speculation of what the murder weapon was which was used to kill Bailey.

Quoting another precedent-setting case, Gamble said it is not the degree of care or the length of time the defendant took to ponder the murder which is important.

After allowing both the aggravated murder and murder charges to be presented to the jury for a decision, Pike raised further issue with how the tampering with evidence charge will be presented, regarding the wording “purposely, knowingly and possibly reckless.” Pike said he will do some further research on the issue prior to instructing the jury about the charges.

Final arguments are expected in the case on Tuesday morning and then final instructions will be given to the jury.