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Salineville man pleads not guilty to murder

Attorney files paperwork for possible insanity plea

LISBON — A Salineville man charged with aggravated murder in the March 18 shooting death of Mary Ann McGuire pleaded not guilty during arraignment, but his attorney also filed paperwork for a possible insanity plea.

Justin Givens, 27, state Route 644, appeared by video from the jail while defense attorney Damian Billak appeared on his behalf in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court before Judge Megan Bickerton.

Prior to the Thursday hearing, Billak filed a motion to determine competency and also an intention to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. Givens remains jailed under a $1 million bond, which was continued.

Bickerton said she would hold off on the motions until the pretrial, which is set for 9 a.m. Aug. 26.

Givens was indicted last month on charges of aggravated murder and murder, both unclassified felonies; two counts of grand theft when the property is a firearm or dangerous ordnance, both third-degree felonies; two counts of tampering with evidence, both third-degree felonies; aggravated possession of drugs, a fifth-degree felony; endangering children, a first-degree misdemeanor, and two firearm specifications.

County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Weikart previously said the maximum penalty Givens could face if convicted would be life in prison without the possibility of parole for the aggravated murder charge. The murder count carries a possible penalty of 15 years to life, and the tampering with evidence and firearm thefts all carry a possible penalty of nine months to 36 months in prison. The possible terms are less for the remaining charges, except the firearm specifications, which each carries mandatory three-year terms.

Givens is accused of purposely, with prior calculation and design, causing McGuire’s death and using a firearm to facilitate the offense. He’s also accused of stealing two guns from the McGuire residence, a .380 semi-automatic-Keltec P-3AT and a rifle, along with creating a substantial risk to the health and safety of two children, ages 4 and 8, whom he had with McGuire’s stepdaughter, Alyssa. The tampering with evidence charges stem from alleged acts that occurred following the murder.

The shooting took place at the Depot Road home of the 67-year-old McGuire, who had been a nurse for many years, retiring from Salem Regional Medical Center in May 2021 and working at Crandall Medical Center on the campus of Copeland Oaks in Sebring.

Givens had been named a person of interest and suspect in the slaying and was taken into custody March 19, the next day. He initially was charged with having weapons under disability after a rifle was found in one of his pickups when authorities were looking for him following the shooting.

Givens was indicted on that charge, a third-degree felony, and attempted escape, a fourth-degree felony, for allegedly having a firearm March 18 while being drug dependent and for attempting an escape from the county jail on March 21. During a hearing, it was indicated Givens had “faked an injury” in hopes of being transported to the hospital in an attempt to escape and had “solicited other inmates” to help him with his plans.

Givens also has another case pending in common pleas court for charges of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, obstructing official business and endangering children.

Both of those other cases will be addressed during the pretrial hearing Aug. 26.

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