LIMA — The first day of trial for a Lima woman charged with two counts of murder began Tuesday in Allen County Common Pleas Court.
Michelle Alves, 32, was charged with shooting and killing Charles and Tarissa Sanders in June 2020 at a home on South Atlantic Avenue in Lima. The start of the jury trial comes one week after Alves rejected the plea deal offered to her by prosecutors.
After spending the morning running through the jury selection process, the court heard an opening statement from Allen County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Joe Everhart.
They also saw their first exhibits of evidence and heard from two witnesses, Javaris Newton and his wife, Desiree Cheatom, who were both friends of Alves.
Newton described the events leading up to the early-morning shooting. On June 2, the day before the shooting, both Newton and Cheatom went over to see Alves and her boyfriend, Clinton Owens Jr., for a cookout at the Atlantic Avenue residence. According to Newton’s testimony, the group spent the night drinking, smoking marijuana, using cocaine and taking ecstasy pills.
Around midnight on June 3, Charles and Tarissa Sanders showed up at the house. Newton said that there was little to no tension between the group during the night.
He said that he saw Charles Sanders take a gun possessed by Owens off the table on his way out. He texted Alves, who was not in the room at the time, to alert her of the situation. Newton, not wanting to be involved, left the room before the confrontation between Alves, Owens and the Sanders that led to the murders took place.
He said that after the shots were fired he went to Cheatom, who was in the house but not in the room, and told her that she needed to get out.
When Newton went back inside and saw Alves holding a gun and saying “they tried to rob me,” he took off running from the house. When he returned a short while later, he discovered the bodies of Charles and Tarissa Sanders and called 911, telling the dispatcher that he “didn’t know” if they were breathing.
Cheatom said that there had been some history between Owens and Charles Sanders, saying that she had witnessed a verbal altercation between the two at her home previously. Like Newton, she said she didn’t feel any tension between the group on the morning of June 3.
Alves fled the scene and was arrested 12 days later in Las Vegas. She faces 15 years to life in prison if she is convicted of the charges against her. The trial is expected to continue on Tuesday morning.