Final pretrial in triple-murder case against James Ferrara

By joe gorman


Judge R. Scott Krichbaum said Tuesday he has yet to make up his mind on a motion to allow jurors to view a triple-homicide scene from 1974.

That was one of several motions heard in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court during a final pretrial hearing in the case of James Ferrara, 64.

Ferrara faces three counts of aggravated murder in the Dec. 14, 1974, killings of Benjamin Marsh, 33; his wife, Marilyn, 32; and their 4-year-old daughter, Heather, inside their South Turner Road home in Canfield Township.

The case is slated to go to trial Monday with jury selection in the morning.

Judge Krichbaum said he felt confident he would be able to select a jury by Monday afternoon.

Assistant Prosecutor Rebecca Doherty filed a motion asking that jurors be allowed to view the crime scene. She said the interior of the home has changed little since the killings and she wants jurors to be able to see it because there are few photos or diagrams of the interior of the home.

Ferrara’s attorney, Anthony Meranto, objected, saying that he thinks the motion is just a ploy to play on the emotions of jurors.

Judge Krichbaum said he does not believe in jury views in general, mainly because he has concerns about the safety of jurors.

But he also added that in this case he would find it hard to justify because of the amount of time that has lapsed between the crime and the indictment of Ferrara. He told Meranto to go with Doherty to visit the crime scene and said he would make up his mind by the end of the week.

Ferrara was indicted in the killings in June after detectives with the Mahoning County Sheriff’s office were able to match fingerprints from the crime scene in 2009 with his. He has been in prison since 1983 for a double homicide he was convicted of in Worthington, near the Columbus area.

Judge Krichbaum dispensed with several routine motions, such as having transcripts prepared of pretrial hearings and allowing Ferrara to wear civilian clothes whenever he is present before the jury.

About 30 jurors were expected to be called for the case, but Judge Krichbaum instructed his bailiff to have an additional six called. Each side is allowed to excuse four potential jurors without cause.

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