The rural Delta man accused of kidnapping and murdering Metamora resident Sierah Joughin last summer appeared in Fulton County Common Pleas Court July 20 for one of 11 pretrial hearings scheduled between now and his trial date in January.
The hearing for James D. Worley took place one day after the first anniversary of Jougin’s disappearance during an evening bicycle ride last summer on County Road 6 in Fulton County.
Mark Berling, Worley’s attorney, said the pretrial hearing was used to discuss administrative aspects of the impending trial. They included deciding upon a procedure for voir dire – a process used to select jury members, and setting court deadlines for filing defense motions and mailing jury summons. Suggested questions for prospective jurors were distributed.
Most of the discussion was held in judge’s chambers, with Worley appearing in the courtroom to place the decisions on record.
Berling said his defense team has filed 54 motions on Worley’s behalf, and may file more. “That’s not at all unusual,” he said.
He declined further comment. County Prosecutor Scott Haselman declined comment.
Joughin had been on a ride July 19, 2016, with her boyfriend, Joshuah Kolasinski. The couple parted ways during the ride to return to their homes, but Joughin was not seen again and was reported missing.
She was last spotted riding at the intersection of County Road 6 and County Road S. The University of Toledo student’s bicycle was later found at the edge of a cornfield on County Road 6, and signs of a struggle were present.
Following a massive air and ground search conducted by numerous members of area police and sheriffs’ departments, federal law enforcement agencies, family members, and volunteers, Joughin’s body was discovered three days later in a shallow grave on County Road 7, not far from the site of her disappearance. She was identified through her fingerprints by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
Worley has been charged under a 19-count indictment with two counts each of aggravated murder with a death penalty specification, murder, felonious assault, abduction, aggravated robbery, and having weapons while under disability; four counts of kidnapping; and one count each of gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence, and possessing criminal tools.
He pleaded not guilty to all counts Sept. 8, and remains in custody without bond at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio in Stryker. His trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 16, 2018.
Worley served three years in prison after being convicted of the 1990 attack on former Whitehouse resident Robin Gardner as she rode her bicycle. He was accused of deliberately hitting her with his vehicle, then trying to force her into the vehicle. Gardner escaped.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.