CELINA — The teenager charged in the murders of a Fort Recovery man and his caregiver daughter told detectives they were executed to get rid of any witnesses who could identify them, according to a detective’s testimony Friday.
Trevin Sanders Roark, now 19, shot Colleen Grube and Bryant L. Rhoades, 22, of Union City, shot Robert Grube after they broke into the Grube house in Fort Recovery on Nov. 29, 2011, Dect. Sgt. Doug Timmerman said Friday.
The two were arrested earlier this year, but details of the crime emerged in detail Friday for the first time. Sanders Roark was in court for a hearing, during which a judge ordered him to be tried as an adult. The hearing was in Mercer County juvenile court since Sanders Roark was 17 at the time of the crime.
Timmerman, who was the only witness prosecutors needed to call to give the judge enough evidence to link Sanders Roark to the crime, testified Sanders Roark told him an unknown man and woman also were involved in the murders.
The Grube house was chosen when someone in the group told the others there was prescription drugs inside the home. They also wanted any money the Grubes had or anything they could turn into cash, Timmerman said.
The group put on surgical gloves to try to avoid leaving fingerprints and DNA behind, Timmerman said.
“Mr. Sanders obtained those gloves for that purpose,” Timmerman said.
Members of the group smoked methamphetamine before going to the house. They parked in a drive close to the house but not at the house, Timmerman said. They hatched a plan to send the woman in the group to the door.
“They were going to use the ruse that their car broke down and they needed to use the telephone,” Timmerman said.
When Colleen Grube answered the door, the woman and others forced their way inside, he said.
“At some point a gun is used to point at Mr. Grube while the unknown male and female are duct taping Colleen Grube,” Timmerman said.
The Grubes were bound to stop them from putting up a fight and to control them, Timmerman said.
Sanders Roark and Rhoades searched the house, including a room upstairs. They found a handgun under a bed which Timmerman said was used to kill the Grubes. The gun belonged to Robert Grube, he said.
Sanders Roark told Timmerman he never would find the gun. It was melted down a short time after the crime, Timmerman said.
While it seemed like those involved had their minds made up on a plan before entering the house, Sanders Roark told Timmerman the man whose name he did not know came up with the idea of killing the Grubes while inside the house, Timmerman said.
“‘We cannot leave them behind with them being able to identify us,’” Timmerman testified Sanders Roark told him the man said.
Rhoades was holding the gun and Sanders Roark took it from him. He shot Colleen Grube then handed the gun back to Rhoades, who shot Robert Grube, Timmerman said.
The group stole cash, a camera, at least one gun, jewelry and a laptop computer, Timmerman said.
Grube family members were present in court, some of them wiping away tears while being comforted by other family members as Timmerman testified. Sanders Roark sat shackled with handcuffs and leg irons.
Sheriff’s deputies were nearby in the small juvenile courtroom that put the Grube family just several feet behind Sanders Roark. There was no partition separating the family from Sanders Roark. The juvenile courtroom isn't set up with such security measures.
Juvenile Judge Mary Pat Zitter told Sanders Roark she had no choice under Ohio law but to bind the case over on the 27 criminal charges including multiple counts of aggravated murder. It took her nearly 45 minutes to go over each count. Zitter enunciated key points such as when she said it was a mandatory bind over while looking at Sanders Roark. Sanders Roark sat at the defense table following along on papers that explained the charges.
Zitter set Sanders Roark’s bond at $5 million.
As Sanders Roark was leaving the courtroom, he whispered to a woman “I love you.” The woman left the courtroom without commenting.
Rhoades is charged with obstructing justice in the case but that is expected to change based on the detective’s testimony. While Mercer County Prosecutor Matt Fox would not comment on the case after the hearing, the biggest question to answer is whether he will seek the death penalty against Rhoades. Sanders Roark cannot face the death penalty since Ohio law precludes a death sentence against a person who was underage at the time of the crime.
Rhoades, for now, has a pretrial scheduled for June 18 in his obstructing case.
Timmerman also explained how the case was cracked. Sanders Roark himself spoke up. He told a police officer in Union City, Ind., he had some information on the Grube murders.
Timmerman, with other investigators, conducted 10 interviews over the next year with Sanders Roark with the first on April 30, 2012. He initially told detectives he knew who killed the Grubes but gave few details.
Sanders Roark slowly began providing more details and eventually confessed to his involvement, Timmerman said.
During a July 11 interview, Sanders Roark gave up Rhoades as a shooter. Just three months ago on March 13, he summoned Timmerman to the Indiana prison late one night where he was being held some four hours from Celina to tell him there was a second shooter, Timmerman said.
“I said, ‘Who would that be?’ and he said, ‘It is me,’” Timmerman said.