While trials up the road in Pike County are the subject of lots of media coverage and plenty of public interest, there are at least two noteworthy Scioto County criminal cases winding their way through the local justice system.
The highest profile Scioto County case involves the death of infant Dylan Groves, whose body law enforcement allegedly found in the bottom of a well near the home of his parents. An autopsy of Dylan’s body, including a cause of death, still has not been made public.
Dylan Groves’ parents both now stand accused of aggravated murder. On July 11, Dylan’s mother Jessica Groves, 39, through attorney Shawn Stratton, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Daniel Groves, 42, also pleaded not guilty to the murder charge against him, although he did not plead insanity.
During a pretrial hearing in August, Stratton requested a mental competency evaluation for Jessica Groves. Scioto County Court Of Common Pleas Judge Mark Kuhn set a competency hearing for earlier this month on Sept. 11, but apparently the psychiatrist completing the mental evaluation was unavailable and Kuhn granted a request to delay the hearing.
According to the Court of Common Pleas website, the court rescheduled Jessica Groves’ competency hearing for 1:45 p.m. Tuesday. While he is not listed on the court website as the prosecuting attorney on the case, Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman stated the hearing should be open to the public.
“There’s a perception it will be,” Tieman said, though he added he expects the hearing will deal with some sensitive issues.
Scioto County officials are treating Jessica and Daniel Groves as co-defendants. The Common Pleas website lists Assistant Scioto County Prosecutor Julie Hutchinson as prosecutor in both cases. The Times did not reach out to Hutchinson for comment as her boss stated he generally informs his assistant prosecutors to refer all media inquiries to him. What’s advertised as a final pretrial in the cases against both defendants is set for Sept. 27. However, what defendants are included in that pretrial as well as whether it takes place at all likely depends on the outcome of Tuesday’s sanity hearing for Jessica Groves.
It is not clear if Kuhn immediately will rule on Jessica Groves’ mental capacity to stand trial during the competency hearing or whether a decision will come later. Kuhn scheduled a four-day jury trial for both defendants beginning Oct. 15. Whether or not the trial begins for both defendants almost certainly depends on the outcome of the competency hearing for Jessica Groves.
The second high profile Scioto County case involves Lucasville man William Michael Basham, charged with 15 counts of sexual abuse up to and including rape and all involving female inmates of the STAR correctional facility in Franklin Furnace.
Hired by the county, Basham worked at the state facility as a vocational plumbing instructor until February when a STAR official said he was escorted off the premises by law enforcement and has not returned.
Currently free on bond, Basham pleaded not guilty to all 15 counts against him at his arraignment Aug. 8. As previously reported, the charges against Basham range from nine counts of sexual imposition, a third-degree misdemeanor, to three counts of felony rape. Basham’s first pretrial in front of Scioto County Court Of Common Pleas Judge Howard Harcha consisted, according to Tieman, of a conference between the judge and attorneys for both sides. The pretrial hearing was not open to the public or the media. In this instance, Tieman is listed as the prosecutor on the case.
Basham is expected to be back in court for another pretrial Oct. 10. Tieman said previously whether or not pre-trials are open to the public depends upon what is going to happen during any given hearing. After Basham’s initial pre-trial last month, Tieman stated even the defendant was not present during the trial conference.
Speaking to the Times late Friday about Basham’s upcoming pretrial, Tieman said he was uncertain whether or not it would be open to the public and therefore press coverage. He further stated he would have an answer to that question hopefully sometime early this week.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.