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Garvin attorneys seek removal of death penalty

PORTSMOUTH — Defense attorneys for the Franklin Furnace woman charged with killing three people last December want the death penalty specification off the case.

Kara Garvin, 30, is accused in the shooting deaths of husband and wife, Ed Mollett, 46, and Juanita Mollett, 43, and their daughter, Christina Mollett, 20. The triple homicides happened Dec. 22, 2008, at the Molletts’ trailer on Snook Road in Franklin Furnace.

Garvin faces 18 counts including aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, theft of drugs and tampering of evidence from an indictment that specifies the death penalty.

The woman went to authorities after the bodies of the three were found. She was then charged with the crimes.

However, in a pre-trial hearing Friday in the Scioto County Common Pleas Courtroom of Howard H. Harcha III, Garvin’s lawyers said the death penalty specification should be removed because of the manner in which it was attached.

According to William Eachus, co-defense attorney, statute requires that each count in the indictment that is to carry the death penalty to be listed with that count, instead of at the end, as it was in the Garvin document.

“This wasn’t done in a statutorial way,” Eachus told the judge.

Harcha requested more case law from the defense before he would rule on the motion.

Most of the morning hearing concerned another defense motion to suppress evidence of the eyewitness photo lineup because of the way it was conducted.

The older Molletts’ 6-year-old grandson was inside the trailer during the murder and then ran to neighbors for help. That night the young boy identified Garvin from a page of six photographs of different women taken from the jail records; a photo of Garvin was among them.

The next day, the neighbor, James Damron, also identified the woman from a similar compilation.

Charles Knight, co-defense attorney, argued that the photo information was presented to the two witnesses in a suggestive manner that prompted them to make the Garvin identification. However, Scioto County Sheriff’s detective Paul Blaine, who was present at both witness interviews, disputed Knight’s contention.

“(The boy) was not coached by anyone,” Blaine said.

The child’s statement said he was asleep at his grandparents.

“A lady had walked in. She was 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-6, 105 to 120 pounds wearing a black vest with knives and guns. She started shooting,” according to the statement read in court.

Knight questioned how the child could make such a precise physical description.

The detective said he asked bystanders to come into the room where the interview was conducted to see if their weight and height matched that of the woman he had seen.

The child picked Garvin out from the six photographs presented to him.

“The little boy picked (Garvin) out and said ‘She’s been at grandpa’s before,’ ” the detective testified.

Damron, who placed the 911 call, told authorities the night of the murder he couldn’t identify the alleged shooter, Blaine said. However, the next day, he also picked Garvin out of a photo lineup.

Harcha said a ruling on that motion should come in about a month.

The trial was to have started earlier this month but was continued for the prosecution to get the results of DNA testing from the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation lab at London.

A second trial date will be after Feb. 15.