A jury was seated late Friday afternoon for the Summit County retrial of Denny Ross in the 1999 slaying of 18-year-old Hannah Hill of Akron.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter, who is presiding over the case, told the panel to report to the courthouse by 9 a.m. Monday for the evidentiary phase of the trial.
Hunter said the first assignment will involve court staff taking the jury to view two scenes: the Springfield Township apartment site where the slaying allegedly occurred and the Caine Road neighborhood in Ellet where police found Hill’s body in her car.
Hunter tentatively scheduled opening statements after Monday’s lunch break, with both sides given one hour to introduce their cases and possibly the first state’s witness taking the stand afterward.
After a full week of jury selection, involving four days of individual questioning on issues such as pretrial publicity and previous knowledge of the case, prosecution and defense attorneys chose 16 jury members — the regular panel of 12 plus four alternates.
Of that total, 12 are women.
Ross, 33, is charged with two counts of murder, tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse and felonious assault. The second murder count, known under Ohio law as “felony murder,” charges Ross with felonious assault during commission of the principal offense.
Hill, who was friends with Ross, disappeared May 19, 1999, after leaving her parents’ home in Kenmore for a late-night visit with Ross at his Springfield apartment.
Her body was found one week later in the trunk of her gold Geo Prizm in Ellet after neighbors repeatedly tried to alert police to an unfamiliar car parked there.
A Summit County autopsy found the cause of death was asphyxia, or strangulation, from what was described in the findings as “manual compression” of the neck.
Former Summit County Medical Examiner Marvin S. Platt told the jury in the first trial that Hill’s assailant most likely strangled her by pulling on her necklace.
That trial, in October 2000, ended in a mistrial over alleged juror misconduct after the panel had signed verdict forms acquitting Ross of aggravated murder, murder and rape.
He is not charged with rape in the current case.
In December 2010, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered Ross to stand trial again, culminating a lengthy appellate battle over the issue of double jeopardy.
Ross is serving a 25-year prison sentence for the 2004 attempted murder and rape of another Akron woman while he was free on bond during the Hill appeals.
Although there apparently were concerns about being able to seat a jury for the retrial after the case has been in the news for more than 13 years, both sides had more than enough potential jurors to make their selections.
When the final phase of juror questioning began at 1 p.m. Friday, the jury pool had 52 members, court officials said.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at email@example.com.