Jury views crime scene photos in Hundley case

By Joe Gorman



Jurors on Tuesday in the capital murder trial of Lance Hundley viewed crime scene photos of the charred remains of the woman he is accused of killing.

Hundley, 48, of Warren, could face the death penalty if convicted in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court of the Nov. 6, 2015, aggravated murder of Erika Huff, 41, in her Cleveland Street home.

Hundley also is charged with attempted murder in the beating of Huff’s mother and aggravated arson after being accused of trying to set fire to Huff’s home and her body. Prosecutors said he beat and strangled Huff, with whom he was living, and also severely beat her mother.

Testimony began Monday before Judge Maureen Sweeney.

Youngstown Patrolman Mark Crissman, a member of the department’s crime lab, testified about photos he took of the crime scene. Huff’s mother, Denise Johnson, who had come to the house to assist paramedics after a medical alarm went off, managed to escape by attracting the attention of officers that morning by rattling a window air conditioner in the same room as Huff’s body. The room was already on fire, and when officers heard the air conditioner, they yanked the unit out of the window and pulled Johnson out of the home.

Jurors looked at photos of the room, which showed char marks on the walls and a hospital-style bed that was badly burned. In some photos, Huff’s body was visible on the floor.

When the first photo was shown, Johnson made the sign of the cross over herself and then left, followed by her husband and other family members. They returned to court moments later.

Also testifying Tuesday was a paramedic called to the house before police were summoned. Brittney Koch, formerly of Rural Metro ambulance company, testified they were called for an unknown medical alarm but when they arrived, no one answered knocks on the doors or windows for several minutes before a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a baseball cap opened the door.

Koch said the man told paramedics he was fine and hit the alarm by accident. Koch testified she saw nothing unusual, nor did she smell any gas, which prosecutors said Hundley used to light the fire. Paramedics left after the man assured them everything was fine. Koch said it is common to get called for a medical alarm and then be told the person hit the alarm by accident.

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