By joe gorman
James Ferrara’s change of scenery will last a little bit longer.
The 64-year-old suspect in a triple murder in 1974 in Canfield Township will remain in Mahoning County while his case plays out in common pleas court, assistant prosecutor Becky Doherty said.
She spoke after his arraignment before Magistrate Eugene Fehr on three counts of aggravated murder and single counts of aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery.
Ferrara entered not-guilty pleas to the murders of former General Motors Lords-town security guard Ben Marsh, 33; his wife Marilyn, 32; and their daughter, Heather, 4, at their South Turner Road home on Dec. 14, 1974. Their 1-year-old son, Christopher, was also there but was unharmed.
Ferrara is serving a prison sentence at the Marion Correctional Institution for a double homicide he was convicted of in 1983 in Worthington, but Doherty said after court Ferrara will not be transferred back to Marion while he awaits his fate in the case here.
Ferrara has a July 9 pre- trial date before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum and an Aug. 5 trial date, which will almost certainly be pushed back.
Fehr appointed Atty. Anthony Meranto to represent Ferrara.
Ferrara, who also worked at the GM plant at the same time Marsh was killed, moved slowly through the jury box when his case was called for arraignment and was asked by Fehr if he had the means to hire an attorney.
“No, sir,” Ferrara replied.
Fehr also asked him who represented him when he was convicted of the double murders.
“That case is 30 years old, sir,” Ferrara replied.
He was also asked if he was eligible for parole and Ferrara told Fehr he had been turned down.
“I had three parole hearings already and I have another one in a couple of years,” Ferrara said.
Ferrara was turned down for parole three times and his next hearing is in 2016. He was convicted of killing two men in a theft of a large amount of cocaine.
At times, Ferrara was chatting with another inmate in the jury box, and both could be seen laughing during the proceedings as they talked.
Doherty would not comment much on the case except to say it will be based a lot on scientific evidence.
Detectives from the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office were able to get Ferrara as a suspect in 2009 by matching fingerprint evidence collected at the crime scene with Ferrara’s fingerprints, which are on file with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation database.
Police at the time said someone broke into the Marsh home, shot Benjamin Marsh and his wife and beat Heather to death. The little boy was found crying and crawling in his mother’s blood. He was adopted by relatives in the Cleveland area.