Shawn M. Jones
Shawn M. Jones
For the second time, an evaluation has shown a Van Wert man accused of murder to be competent to stand trial.

The trial of 36-year-old Shawn M. Jones is currently scheduled to begin on March 14 in Van Wert County Court of Common Pleas. On Monday, Jones was in the courtroom for a second competency hearing. Judge Charles D. Steele made the ruling which clears the way for trial. However, Jones' attorney, Scott Gordon, indicated that he has a number of motions to file in the case this week. Those filings could further delay the trial.

Jones was arrested shortly after authorities found the body of his 83-year-old grandmother, Edna L. LaRue, inside her Sunrise Ct. home on Oct. 1, 2010. The cause of death was determined to be ligature strangulation.

After Jones was found competent to stand trial from an evaluation by Court Diagnostics & Treatment Center in Toledo in December, Gordon requested a second evaluation to be performed by a doctor of his choosing. The second doctor, Dr. Jeffrey Smalldon, Ph.D. of Columbus, agreed with the previous evaluation that Jones is indeed competent to stand trial.

Jones is still being held at the Van Wert County Jail on a $500,000 cash bond.

Also in court Monday morning, Cody Markward, 20, Van Wert, entered six guilty pleas to charges that he was sending pornographic materials and soliciting sex from juveniles.

In a plea agreement, Markward pleaded to two counts of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, two counts of attempted dissimation of matter harmful to juveniles and two counts of importuning. In all, Markward could receive up to six and a half years in prison and a fine of up to $17,500 when he is sentenced on March 30.

During the change of plea hearing, Markward answered a series of questions about his plea without hesitation until Steele asked Markward if he was pleading guilty because he was guilty as charged. Markward gave a long pause and a sigh before finally answering, "Yes".

The alleged incidents happened during the first six months of 2010, while Markward was on active duty with the U.S. Army. The investigation included questioning of the defendant by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command in Mosul, Iraq.

The dissemination charges involved two juveniles between the ages of 11 and 15. The importuning charges state that Markward was soliciting sexual activity and that the victim was between 13 and 15 years of age, and that Markward was 18 or over and four or more years older than the victim.

Also entering a guilty plea on Monday, was James C. Irwin, 44, Delphos, who pleaded guilty having weapons under a disability, a felony of the third degree. Irwin was arrested on Oct. 30, when Delphos Police found a loaded .45 caliber pistol in his vehicle during a traffic stop. Irwin has a prior felony record for drugs and violence which made the gun possession illegal.

Irwin is being held in the Van Wert County Jail for violating the terms of his bond. He faces up to five years in prison at his March 30 sentencing.

Two persons were arraigned on Monday. Leonard L. Lash, 45, Lorain, pleaded not guilty to a third-degree felony OVI charge. A further specification states that Lash has five or more convictions on similar charges within the past 20 years.

Lash was released on a $5,000 cash bond which had been set in Van Wert Municipal Court. He faces at least one year in prison and up to five years if found guilty. A pretrial hearing was set for March 16.

Andrew Taylor, 25, Elida, entered not guilty pleas in two separate indictments charging him with forgery and with possession of drugs, each a felony of the fifth degree. Taylor was released on bond with a pretrial hearing set for March 16.