Death penalty trial set to begin in 2 weeks

First Posted: 1/22/2015

LIMA — A man about to go on trial over accusations that he killed two people — and facing the dealth penalty for those crimes — decided to waive the jury and have three judges consider the case.

Before Hager Church could put his choice on the record he changed his mind Thursday a couple times and finally told the judge he wants a trial by jury.

Church, 30, is scheduled to stand trial Feb. 3 on 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 was at a house at 262 S. Pine St.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

The prosecution and Church’s defense team heard the final round of jury excuses Thursday. Some people wanted to be excused for medical reasons, a wedding and old age. One woman wanted to take a grandchild to Disney World with the Make a Wish Foundation.

Another person was excused for having a felony conviction, an automatic disqualifier.

Church is serving a life sentence with no chance for parole for a separate case in 2010. He was convicted of beating a woman to death inside her home for a few dollars and costume jewelry.