Franklin Township man faces death penalty in murder indictment

Carrie Blazina

TV2 Video by Alexa Maslowski and Vivian Feke.

John Fox, the suspect in the murder of Justin Earley, whose body was found just outside of Kent, was indicted Thursday night on several charges that could lead him to face the death penalty.

Fox appeared briefly Friday morning in Portage County Common Pleas Court, but his arraignment was continued until Monday.

Public defender Dennis Lager, Fox’s attorney, said Fox was served with a grand-jury indictment at 5 p.m. Thursday, which did not allow Lager time to prepare for the arraignment Friday morning.

Under Ohio law, Lager said, the defense must have 24 hours’ notice before an arraignment for an indictment.

“Given the fact that we have not had that opportunity [to prepare], we are not prepared to go forward with an arraignment today,” Lager told Judge Laurie Pittman, who granted a continuance until Monday morning.

Portage County prosecutor Victor Vigluicci told reporters that Fox was indicted on two counts of aggravated murder and one count each of kidnapping, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence.

According to court documents, the indictment has two specifications, which say that the murder occurred during a kidnapping and a robbery. Vigluicci said these specifications are what allow the prosecutors to seek the death penalty.

Fox initially was scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Portage County Municipal Court on Friday, but that did not happen because of the indictment.

“He was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on the complaint that was charged in municipal court,” Lager said. “Prior to that preliminary hearing occurring, he was indicted. Once you’re indicted, municipal court loses jurisdiction.”

Portage County coroner’s assistant Wayne Enders said Thursday that no autopsy details for Earley have been made public and likely will not be released until next week.

Earley, 22, was found dead in Fox’s Storer Suites apartment Jan. 17; Fox, 34, was arrested Jan. 18. Portage County Sheriff David Doak previously told the Daily Kent Stater that Earley was reported missing Dec. 30, and Alliance detectives subpoenaed phone, email and other records that led them to Fox.

Fox’s common pleas court arraignment will be 8:45 a.m. Monday in Pittman’s courtroom at the Portage County courthouse in Ravenna.

Check back with for more details as the case unfolds.

Contact Carrie Blazina at [email protected].