Hundley still faces death penalty

Lance Hundley charged in ’15 slaying of Erika Huff in her South Side home

By Peter H. Milliken


A judge has denied a defense request to remove the death-penalty specification from Lance Hundley, who is charged in the Nov. 6, 2015, slaying of Erika Huff, 41, in her Cleveland Street home on the city’s South Side.

Hundley, 47, of Washington Street, Warren, or Cleveland Street, Youngstown, is accused of beating Huff to death, beating her mother and setting the house on fire.

Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court rejected a defense claim that Ohio’s direct appeal from the trial court to the state supreme court in capital murder cases, which bypasses the 7th District Court of Appeals, violates Hundley’s right to due process of law.

“There are countless further appeals, collateral proceedings and other actions brought in both state and federal courts,” after the Ohio Supreme Court rules on an appeal in a capital case, Judge Sweeney wrote in a judgment entry filed Friday.

Judge Sweeney also rejected a defense claim that Ohio law improperly fails to narrow the class of offenders eligible for the death penalty to include only the worst offenders, saying the state’s top court has previously considered and rejected the defense argument.

The judge also ruled that individual questioning of prospective jurors for Hundley’s trial out of earshot of other potential jurors would be limited to matters pertaining to their exposure to, and reactions to, pretrial publicity and their views concerning the death penalty.

The judge said, however, she’d consider any other sensitive issues that may arise before Hundley’s trial.

“Unlike other death penalty cases, this matter has received minimal pretrial publicity,” the judge wrote.

Hundley’s next pre-trial hearing is set for 8:30 a.m. July 12; and his jury trial is set to begin Sept. 8.

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