Jury finds Jarell guilty of killing stepmom, other charges
After about three hours of deliberations, a Mahoning County jury Tuesday found James Jarrell guilty of the murder of his 55-year-old stepmother.
The jury did not reach a decision on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery or voluntary manslaughter, but also found him guilty of tampering with evidence and receiving stolen property.
Jarrell, 36, admitted Monday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that he stabbed his 55-year-old stepmother to death in 2015.
In closing arguments, attorneys argued over whether his actions constituted aggravated murder or voluntary manslaughter. The jury split the difference with the murder charge, which falls between them and carries a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
Aggravated murder, which would have required a minimum sentence of 20 years to life, would have required jurors to find Jarrell guilty on the aggravated robbery charge.
Prosecutors alleged that Jarrell, who testified that he had a crack addiction, went to his stepmother’s house to ask for money for drugs.
“When she fought back, he killed her,” said assistant Jarrell’s defense attorney described his client as a confused young man and compared him to a stray dog who had been poked and jabbed one too many times.
Jarrell, who said he suffered childhood sexual abuse, testified that his stepmother began a sexual relationship with him shortly after she married his father when Jarrell was 16.
Read more about the case in Wednesday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.