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Some evidence rejected in murder trial

LISBON — Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge Megan Bickerton on Friday considered four motions filed by the prosecution in the Kevin Kirby murder case, which remains set for jury trial Oct. 5.

Kirby, 46, is charged with two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of tampering with evidence for the 2012 murder of Melinda Todd and the severe injuring of her then 5-year-old grandson.

He was indicted in 2019 for the blunt force trauma death of Todd in her Salem Township home on state Route 45. He remains in custody on a $1 million cash or surety bond pending trial and could face 15 years to life in prison on each of the aggravated murder charges.

During the motions hearing Friday, Bickerton agreed with the prosecution’s argument to exclude any evidence of computer voice stress analysis or a polygraph (lie detector) examination, granting both motions.

“The case law I think is very straight forward,” she said.

Assistant Columbiana County Prosecutor Steve Yacovone said use of such evidence would not be permissible since there was no stipulation between the parties and the tests weren’t administered by an expert. In the motion, he said “this evidence would be prejudicial to the state and would mislead and confuse the jury.” He repeated those arguments during the hearing.

Defense attorney Paul Conn admitted the case law is right but tried to argue that it can be used for investigative purposes, as a tool, and they should be able to ask questions regarding that.

The prosecution had also filed a motion asking for a ruling permitting the use at trial of statements made by the child victim at the Child Advocacy Center on Jan. 30, 2013. The boy was 5 years old at the time of the

statement. Conn argued that this was an investigatory examination, while Assistant Columbiana County Prosecutor Tammie Riley Jones argued the interview was for medical diagnosis and treatment of the child after the event.

Bickerton gave preliminary approval for the motion.

She made no decision on a fourth prosecutor’s motion to stop the defense from introducing the defendant’s statements to law enforcement or play or display any audio or video of the statements as evidence.

Jones said unless the state chooses to introduce these statements, the defense shouldn’t be allowed to introduce them. Conn said his client was interviewed on four different occasions by law enforcement and didn’t feel it was fair to say the defense can’t use them at all in a blanket policy because it doesn’t help the prosecution’s case.

Bickerton said she would address the motion if it becomes an issue at trial. She said there would be no decision until the evidence unfolds.

In a meeting behind closed doors between the attorneys for both sides and the judge, several pretrial housekeeping issues were handled relating to jury selection, jury view and a timeline. Chief Assistant Columbiana County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart and defense attorney James Wise were also present, as was the defendant accompanied by two Sheriff’s deputies.

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