Jury selection begins for Shawn Grate trial
ASHLAND, Ohio - The trial for suspected serial killer Shawn Grate is scheduled to start Monday morning in Ashland County Common Pleas Court.
Grate is facing 23 charges, including aggravated murder, for the strangulation deaths of Liz Griffith and Stacey Hicks. Both women were found with clothing wrapped around their necks.
Their bodies were found in September of 2016 inside a home on Covert Court in Ashland after another woman dialed 911 to report she had been kidnaped by Grate. She was rescued by police.
Becky and Brian Chavez were Griffith's pastors, but they considered her to be like a daughter.
At the age of 18, Griffith experienced some family problems and needed a place to stay. The couple invited her into their Ashland home where she stayed for seven years.
"She started calling us mom and dad. She said, 'Well everybody thinks you are, so I may as well go ahead and call you that,'" Brian Chavez said.
Becky said Griffith was kind and trusting and did meaningful things for the couple, including planting flowers in the front yard and helping their dog deliver puppies.
"She just really loved people, and her laugh, oh my Gosh when she laughed, it was so funny. You would start laughing just because she was laughing," Becky Chavez said.
Becky said Griffith met Grate at a church group where she went for emotional support.
Becky believes Grate manipulated Griffith, gained her trust, lured her into the home and killed her.
"I would just like to see him pay for what he has done. I just want justice," she said.
The couple hasn't decided if they will sit through the emotional trial, which could last at least a month, but they feel like they are a voice for the young woman they loved.
Said Brian Chavez, speaking as if he were Griffith, "I want him to know that my life was important, that I had a life and I enjoyed my life and you took it. You had no right."
Investigators have said Grate confessed to killing three other women: Rebekah Leicy, Candice Cunningham and an unidentified woman whose remains were found in 2007 in Marion County.
Grate has not been charged with those three killings, but the investigations continue.
Opening statements in the Ashland County trial are scheduled for April 23.