WAUSEON — The sentencing phase of the James D. Worley trial won’t start until Tuesday largely because of a witness failing to appear Monday.
Defense attorney Mark Berling asked Fulton County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Robinson to delay the start of the sentencing phase until 8:30 a.m. Tuesday because of “non-attendance of a witness and lateness of the report that we got from the forensic neuropsychologist.”
Worley, 58, was convicted March 27 of kidnapping and killing 20-year-old Sierah Joughin in July, 2016. Because he was found guilty of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications, the jury now hears testimony in the penalty phase to determine how he will be sentenced.
Witnesses for the defense will give testimony to “mitigating factors,” or reasons why Worley shouldn’t be executed, which could include information about his upbringing and mental state.
Worley could receive the death penalty, life in prison without the possibility of parole, or life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 or 30 years.
Judge Robinson agreed to resume Tuesday after a lengthy delay Monday, adding that the court was dealing with “a lot of stuff” regarding the case.
On Thursday the judge issued a gag order preventing attorneys for the prosecution and defense, as well as Worley himself, from speaking to journalists after Worley mailed letters seeking interviews to local media, including The Blade.
Judge Robinson told jurors he expects them to begin deliberating by noon Wednesday.
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