Arraignments held in murder case and more

YOUNGSTOWN — Two men charged with a triple murder, a man facing 33 counts of rape and a man accused of killing two others in an automobile crash were arraigned Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

All pleaded not guilty before Magistrate Nicole Alexander, and were ordered to remain in the Mahoning County Justice Center without eligibility to make bond.

Taquashon Ray of Youngstown and Shainquon Sharpe of Columbus, both 23, were arraigned in the Nov. 7, 2018, shooting deaths of an infant, woman and man at the corner of Gibson Street and Pasadena Avenue. Killed were Edward Morris, 21; Valarcia Blair, 19; and Tariq Morris, 3 months.

Ray and Sharpe face multiple counts of aggravated murder, murder, tampering with evidence and other offenses. Each faces the possibility of life in prison without parole if convicted.

Their cases are assigned to Judge Maureen Sweeney.

Dustin L. Ruiter, 44, of Youngstown and Warren, pleaded not guilty to 33 counts of rape, 33 counts of sexual battery, one of attempted rape and six of gross sexual imposition.

He’s accused of offenses against three girls ages 13 to 16 in 2018 and 2019. His case is assigned to Judge Anthony D’Apolito.

Greg A. Barnhart, 33, of Bristolville, pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and drunken driving for a Sept. 28 crash on state Route 34 in Milton Township that killed two men in another vehicle.

His case is assigned to Judge R. Scott Krichbaum.

Barnhart was driving a Ford F-350 truck pulling a trailer that crossed the center line, hitting a GMC van nearly head-on, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said. Killed were Howard W. Mounts, 68, of New Middletown and Bradley J. Ronci, 34, of Austintown.

Tammi Petrosky of Austintown, Ronci’s mother; and Kaley Buccini of Austintown, Ronci’s finance; attended the hearing.

“We’re just very pleased that now he has to go before Judge Krichbaum,” Petrosky said. “That’s what we were praying for.”

Also pleading not guilty was John Wardle, 31, of South Avenue in Poland, who was indicted on aggravated vehicular homicide, operating a motor vehicle under the influence and felony vandalism in a July 8 crash on state Route 164 in Beaver Township that killed passenger Mohammad Musleh, 28.

Wardle’s case is assigned to Judge Anthony Donofrio. Wardle was released from the Mahoning County Justice Center after posting bond, which cost him $1,585.



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