Trial pushed back in freezer case
By Joe Gorman
The trial date for a man accused of killing his girlfriend and stuffing her in a freezer was moved from August to October.
Judge Lou D’Apolito agreed Thursday to the continuance in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court after requests from defense attorneys for Arturo Novoa, 32, of Youngstown.
Novoa is charged with aggravated murder and abuse of a corpse in the death of Shannon Elizabeth Graves of Youngstown.
Graves was found in a freezer last July in a Campbell home belonging to a friend of Novoa’s.
One of the reasons for the continuance is to allow a new prosecutor from the state attorney general’s office to have time to get familiar with the case. The AG is coming in at the request of the county prosecutor’s office because the family of Graves filed a grievance against two assistant prosecutors who were originally assigned the case.
Also, defense attorneys need time to have an expert witness examine the case and then turn those findings over to the prosecution.
A co-defendant, Katrina Layton, 34, also of Youngstown, pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse and is free on bail.
Graves’ family members said they were upset because they were kept in the dark about developments in the case, including Layton’s plea.
Novoa, who is still in Mahoning County jail, protested the delay, saying he never signed a waiver to his right to a speedy trial.
“I have been in the county jail for almost a year now,” said Novoa, who was wearing thick glasses and carrying a clutch of documents when he was led into court. “Every time I come into court, everyone tells me to shut down.”
Novoa said he is also upset because his case should have been heard already and it seems as if nothing has happened. Judge D’Apolito told him that is not true and the delay is necessary because his attorneys need it to prepare his defense.
Judge D’Apolito set a trial date of Oct. 22.
Dan Kasaris, senior assistant attorney general, will be prosecuting the case for the county.
After court, Graves’ sister and father, Debbie DePaul and Ron DePaul, said they were pleased that Kasaris is taking over the case and that they can wait a little longer because of that.
“I’m a little excited we sort of started over in a sense,” Debbie DePaul said. “We have a new set of eyes on the case.”