Final pretrial held in Hundley case
By Joe Gorman
It appears the 21/2-year legal saga of Lance Hundley is about to enter its final chapter.
Jury selection will begin Friday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court before Judge Maureen Sweeney for Hundley, who is accused in the Nov. 6, 2015, beating death of Erika Huff in her Cleveland Street home before it was set on fire. Huff’s mother was severely beaten as well.
A final pretrial hearing in the case took place Tuesday, where defense attorneys and prosecutors agreed on a list of potential jurors to be excused. The court will be welcoming 139 potential jurors Friday for jury orientation in the case.
If Hundley, 48, of Warren, is convicted in Huff’s death, he could be sentenced to the death penalty. If jurors convict Hundley of aggravated murder with death-penalty specifications a second phase of the trial, or mitigation phase, will take place, where defense attorneys will put on evidence to convince jurors to spare Hundley’s life.
Hundley faces charges of aggravated murder, attempted murder, two counts of aggravated arson and one count of felonious assault.
The case has been assigned to Judge Sweeney, and has been swamped in drama at times – all instigated by Hundley, who has fired two sets of lawyers, including once firing a pair of lawyers twice in the same month, and changing his mind twice on the same day about representing himself. He is presently represented by Atty. Doug Taylor, a holdover from his last court-appointed defense team, and Gregory Myers of the state Public Defenders office.
Prosecutors said Tuesday that early on in the case, they made a plea offer of Hundley of life with no parole in exchange for dismissing the death-penalty specifications and running all other charges he faces concurrently. Hundley has repeatedly rejected that offer.