Accused of murder, Denny Ross rejected a plea offer Tuesday, setting up a second trial next month for the 1999 slaying of Hannah Hill.
The state’s offer was far removed from the death sentence it sought during Ross’ first trial in 2000, but Ross firmly declined the deal, even refusing a judge’s offer to think it over for another day.
“Frankly, I find the [offer] insulting. Seriously I do. So, there really isn’t anything to think about,” Ross said to Summit County Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter.
There were two deals prosecutors presented to Ross in recent days. One called for his guilty plea to murder in exchange for a life sentence. With credit for time served for an unrelated rape case, Ross could have sought parole after completing the remainder of a 25-year sentence he received in 2004.
The other required guilty pleas to manslaughter, tampering with evidence and felonious assault for a 25-year sentence that would run concurrently to the rape case. Essentially, the plea would mean Ross would be free in 42 years.
As of now, Ross is set to stand trial Aug. 13. Hunter urged Ross to “think hard” about the offer for 24 hours. He refused.
“I think every day,” Ross, 32, said. “There isn’t a moment that a day goes by that I don’t think.”
Attorneys from both sides are under a gag order and cannot speak to reporters about the case.
Hill, who was 18, disappeared in May 1999 after leaving her parents’ home in Kenmore for a late-night visit with Ross at his Springfield Township apartment. Her body was found one week later in the trunk of her car in an Ellet neighborhood.
The first trial of Ross, in October 2000, ended abruptly in a mistrial after the jury already had signed verdict forms acquitting him of aggravated murder, murder and rape. A lengthy series of appeals by both sides finally ended in December 2010, when the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Ross must stand trial again.
Ross, a friend of Hill at one point, has always asserted his innocence. Prosecutors contend they have DNA evidence linking him to the killing.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or email@example.com.