Couple indicted for death of woman found in freezer
By Joe Gorman
A Mahoning County grand jury indicted a couple in the death of a woman whose body was found in a freezer this summer.
Arturo Novoa, 31, and Katrina Layton, 34, both of Mahoning Avenue, were indicted Thursday on charges of aggravated murder, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.
Both have been in the Mahoning County jail since the body of Shannon Elizabeth Graves was discovered in a freezer in the Campbell home of a friend of Novoa’s in late July.
They were arraigned on abuse-of-a-corpse charges in municipal court before police said Graves died in Youngstown.
Graves had been missing for several months before her body was found and identified. Lt. Doug Bobovnyik said a cause of death hasn’t been released since Graves was examined by the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office, but police have other evidence indicating she was killed.
He would not say what that evidence was. The murder indictment, however, does not have a firearm specification attached to it. Whenever someone is killed with a firearm, that specification is always attached. The specification means if a person is found to have committed a homicide with a firearm, he or she will serve an additional three years in prison.
The indictment also says the pair killed Graves with “prior calculation and design” and she died sometime between Feb. 24 and March 1.
When the two were arraigned in municipal court, city prosecutors said Layton had assumed the identity of Graves, who was once Novoa’s girlfriend. Layton lived in the Mahoning Avenue apartment Graves had shared with Novoa and used Graves’ phone, credit cards and car. She also cared for Graves’ dog.
Additionally, the freezer in which the body was found was being kept at a home on East Ravenwood Avenue, even though the couple did not live there. Novoa moved the freezer to the home of a friend in Campbell after the home on East Ravenwood was experiencing electrical problems.
Novoa’s friends found the remains in the freezer while getting ready to make dinner and called police. They are not suspects and have cooperated with authorities.
With the pair facing murder charges, Graves’ death now becomes Youngstown’s 15th homicide in 2017. In 2016, the city had 18 homicides.
Also Thursday, the grand jury indicted as an adult a juvenile who was 14 in February when he was charged with shooting a woman in the eye during an attempted robbery in her driveway.
Jhamiere Mann Clarke, now 15, whose address in court records is listed as North Four Mile Run Road, is charged with attempted murder, aggravated robbery and felonious assault in the Feb. 6 attack on Ellen Zban, 57, in the driveway of her Powersdale Avenue home.
Jhamiere has been in the detention area at the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center since the attack.
Zban was shot when the teen tried to rob her as she got out of her car, police say. She has since recovered from her injuries.
At the time she was shot, police said she was lucky to have survived.