By Ed Runyan
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins is urging the Ohio Parole Board to keep Christopher Ferrell, 37, behind bars for the rest of his life for killing a 19-year-old Newton Township man during a 1992 burglary.
Ferrell, who was nearly 17 at the time of the murder, was from Weathersfield Township and Warren and part of a group of teens who committed robberies and other crimes.
A second boy, 13-year-old Thomas Elsmore of Austintown, fired one of the two shots that killed Douglas Lash on Feb. 11, 1992. Ferrell fired the other, according to newspaper accounts.
Ferrell has been in the state prison system since March 1993 after being tried as an adult and convicted of aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery and kidnapping in the Lash murder.
He was sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after about 18 years. That sentence also included a conviction from Geauga County for tying up and robbing a 74-year-old woman in Parkman in August 1991.
Elsmore, who was tried as a juvenile, was sentenced to juvenile detention until age 21.
Ferrell and Elsmore killed Lash after Lash arrived home from his grocery-store job and found the boys gathering up the family’s belongings.
Watkins’ office also opposed Ferrell’s parole in 2008, when LuWayne Annos, an assistant prosecutor, said of Ferrell: “The execution-style killing of young Douglas in his own home was not an aberration and not an example of an otherwise ‘good boy gone bad.’”
Watkins and Annos said Ferrell “led an outlaw band of other teenage thugs who committed armed burglaries of numerous homes throughout Western Pennsylvania and Trumbull, Portage and Geauga counties in Ohio.”
Watkins said Ferrell would have faced the death penalty if he would have committed the crime as an adult.
“In short, Ferrell is a sociopath who needs to be locked up for the rest of his natural life,” Watkins said in the letter to the chairman of the Ohio Parole Board.
According to a news report, Ferrell grew up in Mineral Ridge, and two accomplices also were from Mineral Ridge. Ferrell and Elsmore each arrived to the burglary with a gun.
Both shots were to the head, with Ferrell shooting Lash first, disabling him. Elsmore shot second, killing him.