Church gets trial date of June 10 in death penalty case

Greg Sowinski 419-993-2090 •

November 7, 2013

LIMA — A man facing the death penalty in the fire deaths of two people was assigned a trial for June 10.

Hager Church also was granted $2,800 to hire a mitigation specialist and $5,000 to hire a psychologist for his defense. Church is charged with two counts of aggravated murder with a death penalty specification and aggravated arson.

The charges are connected to a house fire on June 14, 2009, that killed Massie “Tina” Flint, 45, and her boyfriend, Rex Hall, 54, at 262 S. Pine St. The fire originally was classified an accident, but additional information surfaced which led police investigator to take a closer look.

Police said Church confessed to the slayings.

Judge Jeffrey Reed scheduled a pretrial for the first Monday of every month at 3 p.m. from now until the trial.

Reed granted a motion to exchange evidence and to file the evidence under seal, away from public view.

The defense filed an additional 25 motions just before Thursday’s hearing, which Reed said he didn’t even have a chance to review. Those will be considered at a later time.

Church waived his right to a speedy trial to give his team more time to prepare his defense.

Those 25 motions included limiting a victim impact statement during the trial and penalty phase; excluding photos of the victims; preventing any mention of Church’s criminal history; sequestering the jury; dismissing the death penalty as a possible punishment; closing pretrial hearings; allowing Church to wear street clothes at hearings and without handcuffs; and preventing parties from discussing the case with Church.

Church is already serving a life sentence with no chance for parole for the Aug. 16, 2010, beating death of Debra Henderson in her home at 619 Woodward Ave. He killed Henderson over a few dollars and costume jewelry, according to testimony.