LIMA — A judge refused to grant a motion Monday to take the death penalty off the table for a man accused of killing two people.
Judge Jeffrey Reed of Allen County Common Pleas Court ruled against the defense motion for Hager Church to remove the death penalty specifications from the charges. The judge also overruled a motion to close hearings and the trial to the media and public.
Church is charged with two counts of aggravated murder and aggravated arson in the June 14, 2009, house fire that killed Massie “Tina” Flint, 45, and her boyfriend, Rex Hall, 54. The fire at 262 S. Pine St., originally was classified as an accident but additional information surfaced that led a police investigator to take a closer look.
Church later confessed to the crime, a police official said.
Reed ruled on nearly 20 motions Monday, many dealing with law that has long been decided but nevertheless must handle motions that come before him.
Other motions included granting a defense request to allow Church to appear in street clothes at all hearings, and free from handcuffs or other restraints.
Reed also granted a request to prevent jail personnel, police investigators and other employees of the criminal justice system from initiating conversations with Church about the crimes.
The judge placed on hold motions dealing with the jury selection process such as whether potential jurors will be questioned individually on issues such as the death penalty.
The next pretrial is Jan. 6, when additional motions likely will be considered. It’s likely before the trial scheduled for June 10 there will be 100 or more motions filed.
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.