A Summit County jury Wednesday found Shawn Eric Ford Jr. guilty in the murders of his former girlfriend’s parents.
The same jury that convicted Ford will meet Monday to begin hearing evidence in consideration of a sentence for the bludgeoning deaths of Jeffrey and Margaret Schobert. The jury’s choices are death by lethal injection or life in prison.
Ford, 20, was found guilty of aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery and theft charges in the April 2013 slayings inside the couple’s New Franklin home.
At times, Ford wrote on a legal pad while Summit County Common Pleas Judge Tom Parker read the lengthy verdict forms. At other times, the Akron man kept his head buried in his hands while his mother seated in the gallery behind him wept quietly.
Jessica Schobert, the couple’s older daughter, was teary-eyed after the verdicts were read as she hugged family and friends in the crowded and cramped gallery. She declined comment afterward, citing a court-imposed gag order that bars those involved in the case from commenting until after Ford’s trial is over.
Ford went on trial this month in the sledgehammer deaths of the respected and popular couple. Jeff Schobert, 56, was a prominent civil attorney; his wife, 59, known to friends as Peg, worked as a legal secretary. Both were active at Archbishop Hoban High School and with its mock trial team.
The Schoberts had welcomed Ford into their family while he was dating their younger daughter, Chelsea. That ended when Ford violently attacked her in March 2013 while celebrating her 18th birthday inside an Akron home.
Prosecutors said Ford then lashed out at the Schoberts 10 days later after they barred him from visiting their daughter while she recovered at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Ford was convicted of felonious assault for the attack on Chelsea Schobert. Now 19, she is serving a 30-month prison sentence for drug trafficking.
Jurors began deliberating Ford’s case Monday afternoon. Their work stalled Tuesday morning when two jurors were excused — one for an illness of a family member, another for her social media friendships with county prosecutors and prior work with them.
Wednesday’s verdicts, however, were largely anti-climatic. Ford’s defense attorneys, Donald Hicks and Jon Sinn, never argued that he was innocent.
Ford previously confessed to the slayings during an interview with New Franklin Detective Michael Hitchings, and last month offered to plead guilty, if the death penalty were set aside. Prosecutors declined after conferring with the Schobert family.
The evidence presented during the trial was at times disturbing, and some jurors wept while their verdicts were being read. The Schoberts were killed inside the home, both beaten on the head more than a dozen times with a large sledgehammer.
Jamall Vaughn, now 15, is accused of being with Ford during the attack. He is set for trial as an adult next month.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PhilTrexler.