Fight interrupts court hearing in murder case
Normally hearings in Ironton Municipal Court are sedate affairs with little emotion and only infrequently raised voices.
That changed dramatically Thursday when family and friends of accused murderer Ashley Seagraves clashed with family and friends of the man she is accused of killing, Delmar Jenkins. Two people were arrested and the preliminary hearing was stopped briefly to allow tempers to cool.
Melanie Pruitt, 32, of 3550 State Route 141, Ironton, and Tony Jenkins, 45, of 627 S. Fifth St., Ironton, were each charged with disorderly conduct and contempt of court and taken to the Lawrence County Jail. Melanie Pruitt is Seagraves’ aunt; Tony Jenkins is Delmar Jenkins’ brother.
Seagraves was in court for a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to send the case to a Lawrence County Grand Jury and, possibly, trial in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.
During that hearing, in front of Judge O. Clark Collins, Lawrence County Sheriff’s Detective Aaron Bollinger was called to testify about the investigation into the death of Jenkins, 53, of Elizabeth Township and why Seagraves, 23, of Ironton, was arrested.
At one point during the hearing, a member of the Jenkins delegation stood up and began yelling at Seagraves; members of Seagraves’ family and friends began yelling back. An altercation ensued with members of both sides verbally abusing one another and trying to assault each other.
One member of the Seagraves supporters was told to leave the courtroom and made an obscene gesture with both hands at the Jenkins camp.
“In a court of law, we’re here to see that justice is done,” Collins told the people in the gallery. “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior. If you’re going to stay you’re going to conduct yourselves in a proper manner. I hope everyone understands that.” Collins ordered a 10-minute recess to allow tempers to cool.
When court resumed, there were more law enforcement officers present.
After the hearing, as supporters were leaving, security had to threaten some with arrest or ejection because continued problems.