The parents of two-month-old Dylan Groves were in court for an arraignment/pretrial hearing Thursday morning in which what didn’t happen may be most notable.
On July 11, Jessica Groves, 39, through her attorney, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity in relation to the death of her son, who, authorities say they found deceased at the bottom of a 30 foot well in Otway.
On Thursday, Groves court-appointed attorney Shawn Stratton told Scioto County Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark Kuhn a mental evaluation for his client is pending. He said the person handling that evaluation is on vacation and he was unclear when an evaluation will happen.
Kuhn did not seem at all worried about the timeline for Groves’ mental testing. Neither was Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman.
After the brief hearing of about 15 minutes, Tieman told the Daily Times more serious cases such as the Groves case usually become assigned to a senior mental health specialist. Scioto County uses a Cincinnati firm for their mental evaluations.
“They have a tough job,” Tieman said. “I’m not going to begrudge somebody their time off.”
Tieman is of the opinion the timing of Groves’ mental evaluation will not affect the timeline of the ongoing cases against Dylan’s parents.
During the hearing, Tieman informed the court he is still awaiting the final autopsy results on Dylan Groves from the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, which handles autopsies for Scioto County. A preliminary autopsy report, completed by Montgomery County but available for viewing at the Scioto County Coroner’s Office, refers to “a decomposed approximately two-month-old infant.”
Most media reports give Dylan’s age as six months. However, that appears to be the age Dylan would have been at the time authorities discovered his body.
Dylan’s date of birth was Jan. 10. No cause of death or an exact date of death have been made public.
According to the preliminary autopsy, someone wrapped Dylan’s body “in numerous plastic bags,” sealed with duct tape and “placed in crates,” bound by chains, padlocks, zip ties and metal wires.
Both Jessica Groves and husband Daniel Groves, 42, face aggravated murder charges in the death of their son. Thursday’s hearing, in addition to being a pretrial on those charges, also introduced numerous charges of receiving stolen property against both of the Groves.
Those charges stem from stolen property the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office claims they found at the Groves’ home. On Thursday, both Jessica and Daniel Groves pleaded not guilty to all of those counts.
Both defendants currently are being held in the Scioto County Jail on the murder charges without chance of making bail. In regard to the receiving stolen property charges added Thursday, Kuhn put in place a $10,000 cash surety bond for each defendant.
Kuhn set Aug. 28 as the next pretrial date for all charges against the Groves. As was reported previously, Kuhn scheduled a final pretrial in the cases for Sept. 27 with a jury trial set for Oct. 18.
On Thursday, Kuhn said one issue still needing decided is whether or not the trial will continue with the Groves as co-defendants. Kuhn did not say what might motivate holding separate trials for each defendant, but from his comments that is a possibility.
Attorneys for both the defense and prosecution told Kuhn the fulfilling of discovery requests by defense attorneys is underway and will continue.
By now, plenty of media, including the Daily Times, have related the alleged story of Dylan’s short life.
After allegedly being born with illicit drugs in his system, Scioto County Children Services initially took custody of the child. However, officials allowed Daniel Groves custody of his son after, according to Children Services, he met all legal requirements for family unification. Officials have said Daniel Groves initially kept up with the requirements of family reunification, but then stopped showing up for doctors and Children Services appointments. Eventually, Scioto County Children Services asked for the involvement of the county sheriff’s department and Dylan’s body allegedly was found in the well near the Groves family home.
Since the discovery of the body, Children Services has been under heavy criticism for their handling of the case. The Children Services board recently held a closed-door session with a handful of local officials to discuss their policies and operating procedures. Officials reported no specific cases, including Dylan’s, were discussed during that meeting.
The next children services board meeting open to the public and advertised as including a public comment session, is set for 9:30 a.m., Thursday at Children Services headquarters, 3940 Gallia St., New Boston.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserve.