ASHLAND, Ohio - Closing arguments were made in the trial of accused serial killer Shawn Grate on Monday. Grate's fate now lies in the jury's hands. The jury began deliberations around 1:30 p.m.
Last week, Grate pleaded guilty to 15 charges including rape, burglary, tampering with evidence, gross abuse of a corpse and kidnapping with sexual motivation. Those charges were related to Liz Griffith and Stacey Hicks, who were found dead at the home Grate occupied, as well as a woman identified as "Jane Doe," who escaped from the house.
Ashland County Prosecutor Chris Tunnell described the deaths of Griffith and Hicks during closing arguments.
"He threw her away. Literally, threw her away under the trash like you would anything that you had used up. When you're done, it goes in the trash can," Tunnell said when talking about Hicks' body.
Both Griffith and Hicks were found in a Covert Court home in Ashland in September 2016.
Throughout the trial, the prosecution argued that Grate planned the killings. During his closing, Tunnell said Grate was always thinking, planning and plotting, saying that evidence, testimony and Grate's own words prove he is guilty of aggravated murder and kidnapping charges. Tunnell replayed portions of Grate's confessions to police on Monday and once again showed a video of Grate demonstrating, on a police officer, how he strangled the victims.
Grate's lawyers did not offer much of a defense during the trial. One his attorneys did make a closing statement. Defense attorney Robert Whitney asked the jury to consider the fact that Grate volunteered information to police about the bodies. He also argued that the victims were not kidnapped.
"Elizabeth was not kidnapped. She came to the Covert Court address on and out her own volition and entered the home on and out of her own volition," Whitney said.
But Tunnell said that's not so.
"Why is she there? Why is she bound?" Tunnell said. "And why are we arguing over whether she was killed while she was kidnapped when she's naked and bound in the closet, dead?"
The judge said he will let the jury deliberate until 8 p.m. Monday. After that, the jurors will be sequestered in a hotel and resume deliberations on Tuesday morning.
If convicted, the same jury will decide if Grate should receive the death penalty.