AKRON, Ohio — A Summit County Court of Common Pleas jury recommended Friday that Stanley Ford, 62, get life in prison for the arson deaths of nine people in Akron in 2016 and 2017.
The jury was considering the death penalty or life in prison. Ford will be sentenced at a later date.
He was found guilty last month of killing nine people in separate fires between 2016 and 2017.
Jurors found Ford guilty of 26 of the 29 charges against him, including 22 counts of aggravated murder, as well as aggravated arson and attempted aggravated murder relating to a man who escaped from the first fatal fire.
Ford was found not guilty of prohibitions against companion animals, a charge related to a dog that died in the second fatal fire. The jury also acquitted him of arson and aggravated menacing in a vehicle fire that happened in January 2017 in which no one was injured, and an alleged confrontation with a neighbor prior to the vehicle fire.
Ford maintained his innocence throughout the trial.
Jurors remark on 'unforgettable case
Two jurors who spoke with News 5 on Friday said the trial is something they will never forget. Both were touched by the case and the testimony they heard and unanimously decided today to sentence Ford to life in prison without parole.
"What you have to understand is that there's a lot of people that have difficultly in life. There’s a lot of people raised rough. There’s a lot of people who might have a stroke and brain damage, but that doesn’t make them go set a house on fire," juror Stanley Carter said.
According to Carter, the discussion in the jury room was sometimes contentious as jurors weighed whether or not to sentence Ford to the same fate as his victims.
Juror Antonio Lovelace said Ford's claims of mental health issues weighed in his decision.
"I work in mental health on a daily basis, so I can understand how some of those things can affect people, especially in the Black community," Lovelace said.
Both Lovelace and Carter called the decision a tough one, offering these words to the families of Ford's victims:
"I’m sorry this happened. There’s really nothing, no words can really make them feel better. They lost a lot of family members," Lovelace said.
"We had to make a decision. I mean I trust in God more than anything, and I figured sometimes that we can give a person a date when they’re going to die, but God might have some work for them that they wish they were dead," Carter said.
The arson fires
In April of 2016, Lindell Lewis, 65, and his girlfriend, Gloria Jean Hart, 66, were killed in a fire at their home in the 700 block of Fultz Street in Akron.
In January of 2017, an SUV parked in the driveway of a home on Akron's Russell Avenue was set on fire. No one was injured.
In May of 2017, seven people were killed in a house fire in the 600 block of Fultz Street. The victims were identified at Dennis Huggins, 35, Angela Boggs, 38, and their five children, Cameron Huggins, 1, Alivia Huggins, 3, Kyle Huggins, 5, Daisia Huggins, 6, and Jared Boggs, 14.
What happens next
Attorneys involved in the case and the families of the victims remain under a gag order until Ford is formally sentenced, which is scheduled to happen later this month. The victims' families are expected to speak then.
Editor’s note: A push alert from our app said that Ford will get life in prison. It should have said a jury recommends life in prison.
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