Murder suspect granted continuance for attorney to review evidence

By Jim Painter - For the Sidney Daily News

SIDNEY – Peter Stokes, of Sidney, the man accused of causing injuries during a fight at the Shelby County Jail that led to the death of a fellow inmate, was granted a continuance during his final pretrial hearing Friday, April 26, in Shelby County Common Pleas Court.

On Tuesday, audio and video surveillance evidence will be presented to Stokes and his attorney for this first time. Stokes has been charged with murder, an unclassified felony.

Stokes’ attorney Daniel O’Brien of Dayton stood beside the shackled Stokes telling Judge James Stevenson that they had not seen the state’s evidence because their computer system was not compatible. He asked if they could view the material at the Shelby County Jail on Tuesday, April 30.

The final pretrial is the last stop in the state mandated speedy trial process to allow the defendant to reach a plea agreement or continue to trial.

Stevenson informed O’Brien that such a move would cause a delay in the speedy trial scenario. O’Brien had Stokes waive those dates in order to view the evidence. Stevenson said the next final pretrial would be scheduled after Tuesday’s viewing. A jury trial is set for May 21.

Stevenson approved an order for authorities to hold the 26-year-old Stokes locally for the meeting. Stokes is currently being housed at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s Correctional Reception Center in Orient on an unrelated conviction in Shelby County.

On Jan. 18, Stokes was one of two men involved in the fight. The other combatant, James Richards, 54, of Sidney, died at Miami Valley Hospital at 3:50 p.m. the following day. The cause of death was a brain bleed believed to be caused by the assault, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

On Feb. 14, Stokes entered a Not Guilty plea to a charge of murder, an unclassified felony.

On Feb. 26, Stokes was sentenced to an 11-month sentence on a charge of attempted failure to provide a change of address, a fifth-degree felony. Stokes, a registered sex offender, had been jailed since November 2018 on the charge.

By Jim Painter

For the Sidney Daily News

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.