Four murder trials set in coming months in Portage courts

by DAVE O'BRIEN RECORD-COURIER REPORTER Published:

Three murder cases are scheduled to be heard in the coming months in Portage County Common Pleas Court in Ravenna, all stemming from deadly incidents that took place between August and December 2013.

Two of the alleged crimes occurred in the Windham area, while a third took place in Franklin Township. Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci said trials are scheduled in all three cases.

A new trial date recently was set in the case of a Windham Township man accused of shooting his nephew to death on Christmas Day 2013 in the mobile home they shared.

The trial of Joseph E. Thornton, 49, is scheduled to begin July 7 in Judge John Enlow's courtroom, according to court records. He pleaded not guilty, and remains in the Portage County jail on $1 million cash bond, pending trial.

Thornton was indicted on one count each of murder with a firearms specification, an unclassified felony, tampering with evidence and obstructing justice, both third-degree felonies, in the death of Jason R. Canan, 39.

The Portage County Sheriff's Department and prosecutor's office allege that Thornton shot Canan in their shared residence on South Chapel Street in the P & M Estates Mobile Home Park on Route 82 between Garrettsville and Windham.

The firearms specification on the murder charge could net Thornton an additional, mandatory three years in prison if convicted. The killing was the third reported murder in Windham or Windham Township since Thanksgiving 2012.

John R. Fox, 35, formerly of Kent, could face the death penalty for the alleged robbery, kidnapping and murder of Justin T. Earley, 22, of Alliance, on or about Dec. 30, 2013.

Fox is charged with two counts of aggravated murder, both unclassified felonies, one count each of aggravated robbery and kidnapping, both first-degree felonies, and tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges, and is being held in the Portage County jail on $3 million bond, pending an Aug. 4 trial in Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman's courtroom.

Fox allegedly kidnapped, robbed and murdered Earley after apparently meeting him through an online ad Earley posted soliciting sex for money. Portage County sheriff's detectives discovered Earley's body wrapped in a blanket inside Fox's apartment at the Storer Suites complex on East Main Street on Jan. 17.

Following a brief manhunt, Fox was arrested the same day in Ravenna Township.

Also set to be heard in a Ravenna courtroom this fall is the case of Timothy T. Sullivan, 26, of Windham. He goes on trial in Enlow's courtroom Sept. 3 on seven felony charges related to the death of his daughter, Scarlett Ariel Sullivan, age two-and-a-half months.

Timothy Sullivan has pleaded not guilty to one count each of involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony; one count of felonious assault, a second-degree felony; three counts of child endangering, two second-degree felonies and one third-degree felony; and one count each of reckless homicide and tampering with evidence, both third-degree felonies. He is being held in the Portage County jail on $500,000 cash bond.

Born June 5, 2013, at Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna, Scarlett Sullivan was pronounced dead at the same hospital after being taken there on Aug. 22, 2013. Timothy Sullivan told Windham police and Portage County sheriff's detectives he found his daughter unresponsive upon waking up that morning.

A subsequent investigation found that Sullivan's actions that morning "did result in the death of the infant," according to Sheriff David Doak.

Vigluicci said he had no additional information to release in any case.

Email: dobrien@redcorepub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4157

Facebook: Dave O'Brien, Record-Courier

Twitter: @RCCrimeWatch

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