Sentencing phase begins for convicted killer Shawn Grate

ASHLAND, Ohio - A jury is deciding whether convicted killer Shawn Grate should live or die.

The penalty phase of the capital murder trial began Friday morning with a brief opening statement from the prosecutor. He told the jury the death penalty is an appropriate sentence in Grate's case.

Grate's defense team declined to make any opening statements.

The prosecution rested their case without calling any witnesses. The defense team called on Grate's older sister Barbara Charter who testified that she took care of Grate from the ages of 12 to 16 while their mother worked as a bartender.  

Charter told the jury Grate had a learning disability and a controlling relationship with his mother. She also testified that a fire in the home damaged Grate's bedroom when he was 3-years-old.

Dr. John Fabian, a forensic psychologist, testified that Grate's brain was "hard-wired differently" and when Grate was born he was compromised in neurological brain development. He also said Grate had a learning disability and was diagnosed with mild depressive and personality disorders.

According to the defense team, those were "mitigating factors" in his life that outweigh the "aggravated circumstances" and therefore, his life should be spared.

During cross-examination prosecutors pointed out disturbing details in the doctor's report, including that Grate said he received fan mail in jail and admitted he was a "dangerous man." According to prosecutors, Grate also said he hopes to kill more people in prison.

Grate was convicted earlier this month for the deaths Stacey Stanley Hicks and Liz Griffith. He was found guilty on charges of aggravated murder and kidnapping.

During the trial he pleaded guilty to charges of rape, burglary, tampering with evidence, gross abuse of a corpse and kidnapping with sexual motivation.

Click here for more coverage on Shawn Grate.

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