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Death may be hate crime

10/14/2004

WAVERLY -- Two men accused of aggravated murder, as well as an accused rapist and a man involved in a Waverly shooting were arraigned Wednesday in Pike County Common Pleas Court.

Martin E. Baxter, 28, of 112 W. Fourth St., and Matthew W. Ferman, 22, of 438 Estep Lane, were both arraigned on one count of aggravated murder each Wednesday. Both pleaded not guilty.

The charges stem from the beating death of 39-year-old Daniel Fetty. Waverly police found Fetty beaten and naked in a trash bin behind the Vallery Building at 100 N. Market St. around 1 a.m. Oct. 2. He died about 12 hours later after being taken to Grant Medical Center in Columbus.

If convicted on the charge, Baxter and Ferman face a prison term of up to life with the possibility of parole after 20 years and a $25,000 fine.

They remain in the Ross County Jail -- Pike County's is only a temporary holding facility -- on a $1 million cash assurance bond.

Since neither man was indicted on a charge of aggravated robbery they were originally charged with, Prosecutor Rob Junk said the death penalty is off the table for the time being.

"In order to make a death penalty case, there would need to be more evidence presented," Junk said.

But the investigation is ongoing, he said, and the Waverly Police Department still has several leads it is pursuing. Though it is the killing as being motivated by robbery, Junk said since Fetty was gay, authorities are still looking at the murder as a possible hate crime.

"It has overtones of one, and I definitely don't want to rule that out," he said.

Judge Cassandra Bolt-Merideth didn't set a date for a pre-trial hearing, though Junk said the date will be set once the court appoints attorneys for Baxter and Ferman. He expects a pre-trial to take place in about two weeks.

However, a tentative trial date was set for Dec. 31, though Junk said he expects that to be pushed back once Baxter and Ferman have lawyers.

"If it's like any other murder case I've dealt with, the defense would file several motions for the court to consider," he said.

Junk said if the defendants are being held in jail, the state has to schedule a trial within 90 days of their arrest in order to comply with a suspect's right to a speedy trial.

Baxter and Ferman had been indicted last week by a special session of the Pike County Grand Jury, but the case against a third man accused of the crime, James V. Trent, 19, of 523 Third St., was not presented to the grand jury.

Junk would not comment on the reason for the delay on Trent's case, but Waverly Police Chief Larry Roe told the Associated Press last weekend authorities are working on a deal in which Trent would testify against his co-defendants.

Junk did say Trent waived his right to a speedy trial and a preliminary hearing through his lawyer, Athens-based public defender Jay Wamsley.

Source: Chillicothe Gazette



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