Woman pleads guilty, gives statement, in freezer case


VINDICATOR EXCLUSIVE

By Joe Gorman

jgorman@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

One of two people charged with the death of a missing woman found chopped up in a freezer entered guilty pleas in the case in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Katrina Layton, 34, of Mahoning Avenue, pleaded guilty Friday before Judge Lou D’Apolito to charges of obstructing justice and abuse of a corpse, both felonies.

Layton and her boyfriend, Arturo Novoa, 31, were charged with the death of Shannon Elizabeth Graves, who had been missing for several weeks before she was found in July in a freezer at the home of a friend of Novoa’s in Campbell.

Layton gave a statement to prosecutors about the crime before she gave her plea.

Prosecutors are recommending probation as long as she cooperates and testifies against Novoa in his March 5 trial on charges of aggravated murder and abuse of a corpse.

Prosecutors said Layton assumed Graves identity after Graves was killed.

Prosecutors said they did not oppose Layton being released on bond after she made her pleas, but Judge D’Apolito wants to keep her in the jail until Novoa goes on trial. He told her if anyone tries to talk to her about the case she is to inform her attorney immediately.

“I have two young kids at home I want to get back to,” Layton said.

Judge D’Apolito said he wanted to make sure she was not just entering a guilty plea so she could be with her children as soon as possible. Layton said she was not.

“I don’t think it would be fair of me as a mom to not take responsibility for my actions in this case,” Layton said.

Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa would not comment on how Layton obstructed justice.

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 on the South Side, 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.

Police and prosecutors have not commented on a cause of death for Graves.

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