Attorneys told a Summit County judge Tuesday they plan to meet with medical experts before deciding whether a competency evaluation is needed for an 18-year-old indicted on capital murder charges in the April 2 slayings of a prominent New Franklin couple.
Shawn Eric Ford Jr. stood beside his two lawyers, Donald Hicks and Jonathan Sinn, during his first pretrial hearing before Common Pleas Judge Tom Parker.
Ford was shackled at the wrists and ankles. He wore green-striped jail clothes — a color signifying he is an inmate in the jail’s mental health unit.
Hicks said in arraignment proceedings last month the defense most likely would file a written plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, but that has not happened. He told Parker that a meeting was planned with medical specialists within the next several days to determine whether a mental evaluation would be needed.
Police arrested Ford on aggravated murder charges early last month, three days after Jeffrey Schobert, 56, and his wife, Margaret “Peg” Schobert, 59, were found bludgeoned to death inside the master bedroom of their Rex Lake Drive home in the Portage Lakes area.
According to investigative records, police recovered a sledgehammer in close proximity to the bodies.
Last week, police confirmed that a 12-inch-long knife, also believed to have some connection to the slayings, was found in the yard of one of the Schoberts’ neighbors.
All parties in Ford’s case are prohibited from commenting on any details outside of court proceedings, under a gag order Parker issued late last month.
Ford, barely audible during Tuesday’s hearing, spoke only briefly in answer to legal questions from Parker about what is certain to be a lengthy process in his death-penalty trial.
Any defendant in a capital murder case is required to have two attorneys certified by the Ohio Supreme Court to handle such cases.
Another Akron teen, a 14-year-old boy, is in custody at the county’s juvenile detention center as a suspected accomplice in the New Franklin slayings. He cannot, under Ohio law, face the death penalty.
Jamall Vaughn is scheduled to appear this afternoon before Summit County Juvenile Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio. It will be the first step in court hearings to determine whether there is probable cause to transfer his case to the adult justice system.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or email@example.com.