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AUSTINTOWN CHILD SLAYING Mother's lawyer raps capital charge



Published: Fri, April 5, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



A defense attorney said his client is suffering from a mental illness.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- The death penalty should not be considered for a 27-year-old Austintown woman accused of running over her daughter with a car, a defense lawyer said.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Sherry Delker of North Turner Road. A Trumbull County grand jury indicted Delker on Thursday on a count of aggravated murder with a specification that the victim was under 13.

No bond: Police say Delker ran over her daughter, Samantha Martin, 6, on March 29. Delker, who is being held without bond in the county jail, is scheduled to be arraigned on the charge Monday, court officials said. Samantha's father lives in Warren, police said.

"This is totally irresponsible on the part of the prosecutor's office to lead the grand jury to indict this case as capital [death penalty]," said Atty. Anthony Consoldane of the Trumbull County Public Defender's Commission. "We should not be attempting to kill people that are mentally ill."

Dennis Watkins, county prosecutor, could not be reached to comment.

Consoldane said Delker is suffering from a mental illness and that he probably will file a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity motion sometime soon.

Police think the killing occurred on Prospect Street near state Route 46 in Mineral Ridge, next to St. Mary Church. Scuff marks that could have been made when a body was dragged by a car were found on Prospect Street, and clothes were embedded in the pavement, an affidavit says.

Evidence found: Crime lab officers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol also found a tire tread on Samantha's shirt that resembled the tread on Delker's car's front tires. The vehicle is a black 1990 two-door Chevrolet Lumina.

Delker told police she went to the church to ask forgiveness after sending her daughter to a "better place."

Delker had first told police at the morgue that a white woman driving a blue pickup or minivan had hit Samantha on Prospect Street. The woman then drove away, Delker said.

Weathersfield police called the state patrol for help.

An affidavit filed with the court by the prosecutor's office says Delker admitted killing Samantha and said she lied about the woman in the blue minivan.

The affidavit also says one witness saw a woman pull something from under a car and put it in the back seat. He thought it was a dog or an animal.

Another witness said she saw a woman in a dark car near the church. There was a young girl outside the car, wearing high-heeled shoes and skipping.

Sexual abuse: The Mahoning County Coroner's Office said the autopsy showed that Samantha, who died of multiple internal injuries, had been sexually abused. She was pronounced dead at St. Elizabeth Health Center.

Mahoning County officials are investigating the alleged sexual abuse. No charges have been filed.

Authorities in both counties are investigating because the girl and her mother lived in Austintown in Mahoning County, but the death happened in Trumbull County.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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