Jury deliberations ended Tuesday without a verdict in the Summit County retrial of Denny Ross for the 1999 slaying of Hannah Hill.
Ross, 33, is charged in the retrial, now in its seventh week, with two counts of murder, felonious assault, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.
In the early portion of Tuesday’s deliberations in Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter’s jury room, the panel asked for two sets of trial documents – Hill’s home phone records and a transcript of Ross’ first police interview on the night of May 26, 1999, just hours after Hill’s partially clad body was found in her car trunk.
Hunter met in chambers with both sides’ attorneys to discuss the request, and it was granted, a court official said.
Hill went missing on the night of May 19, 1999, after leaving her parents’ home in the Kenmore area of Akron, following dinner, to visit Ross at his apartment in Springfield Township.
She was 18 and was scheduled the next morning to start a full-time secretarial job at Diebold.
Her boyfriend at the time, Brad Oborn, admitted in earlier testimony that he was abusive, cheated many times on Hill and had a heated fight with her at his apartment on the day before she went missing.
Prosecutors asked Oborn on the witness stand if he was responsible for her death, and he replied: “Absolutely not.”
Prosecutors have long theorized that Hill was killed during a violent sexual struggle with Ross at his apartment.
“Basically, anything went. Any teenager in Springfield and Ellet who wanted to party knew they could go to Denny’s, and that’s where it happened,” Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Meyer told the jury Monday in closing arguments.
“Life was a nonstop party for Denny Ross, day in and day out,” he stressed.
The original Summit County autopsy showed Hill was beaten about the face, had a 2-inch cut on the back of the skull and died by strangulation.
Jurors began Tuesday’s talks with only a tape recording of Ross’ first police interview, but the panel asked for the full transcript when parts of the recording were difficult to understand, a court official said.
Ross admitted Hill visited him on the night of May 19 and that they “kissed and stuff” during what the defense has described as an intimate encounter between two young adults.
He denied ever having intercourse with her and, in fact, is not charged in the retrial with any sex-related crimes.
“The only question that is before you,” lead defense counsel Roger Synenberg told the jury Monday, “is whether or not the state has provided you with substantial, convincing, significant, compelling evidence of such weight to convince you beyond a reasonable doubt that Denny Ross committed the crimes with which he is charged, and the answer is they have not.”
Synenberg stressed that, to this day, investigators never found any of Hill’s blood or DNA inside Ross’ apartment.
Ross’ first trial, in October 2000, ended in a mistrial after the jury signed verdict forms finding him not guilty of aggravated murder, murder and rape.
He is serving a 25-year prison sentence for his 2004 crimes against another Akron woman while he was free on bond during the protracted appeals of the mistrial ruling.
The jury is scheduled to return to court at 9 a.m. today to resume deliberations.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.