Fuller in court

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Court proceedings for Devin Wayne Fuller, 19, 3567 Franklin St., Bellaire will continue through summer, and a trial date could be set for February. He will next appear before Solovan during a pre-trial conference set for July 12.

He and Brandon Michael Phelps, 20, 1281 Birch St., Bellaire, are charged with four counts of aggravated murder, committed in the course of rape, of aggravated burglary, of burglary and of trespassing. Each count carries a death penalty specification. Both face two additional counts of trespassing. The crimes are alleged to have taken place June 29-30. The victim, Lydia Ashworth, was found dead in her home.

Fuller appeared before Belmont Common Pleas Court Judge John M. Solovan II on a status conference to review the collection, examination and sharing of evidence.

Prosecutor Chris Berhalter reported the sharing of lab reports with defense.

Defense Attorneys Kirk McVay and William Mooney reported that consulting psychologist and investigators are continuing their work. Analysis could extend into August. More time could be needed, depending on the results and demand for further examination of the findings.

“We are moving forward. Unfortunately it’s not as fast as anyone who’s involved in this cast would want it to proceed,” Berhalter said. He added that any capital case is an exacting process that will be reviewed by state and federal courts in years to come. “We have to make sure that everything that is done is done properly.”

He acknowledged the frustrations of the victim’s family.

“It’s unfortunate that it does take this long to proceed forward, and I can’t imagine how difficult it is on the victim’s family. However, you’re dealing with a case that does involve a extensive amount of laboratory work, as well as a case that involves anywhere between 40 to 70 motions filed by the defendant that have to be addressed.”

Bond remains at $1 million.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com