Trial date set in Slack case

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 12, 2022

Court sends aside May 9-20

The former owner of a funeral home was back in court on Wednesday morning and a trial date has been set for May 9-20.

Richard Slack appeared in the Lawrence County Common Pleas Court of Judge Andrew Ballard.

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The main discussion at the hearing was when a trial date could be set, since the right to a speedy trial is in effect and the trial has to be held within 90 days of his arraignment, which was March 2.

Slack, 68, a former owner of Slack and Wallace Funeral Home in South Point, has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree misdemeanor voyeurism and 11 counts of second-degree felony illegal use of a minor or impaired person in nudity-oriented material or performance. If found guilty on all the misdemeanor charges, the sentence is up to five years in jail. On the felony charges, the maximum sentence is 88-92 years in prison with a Tier 2 sex offender registration for up to 25 years.

Slack is alleged to have invaded the privacy of others by videotaping and filming for sexual gratification. The dates of the incidents in the indictment alleged the taping occurred in November and December 2015 and in March–August 2019.

Both Slack’s attorney, Tyler Haslam, and Lawrence County prosecutor Brigham Anderson requested that a trial date be set.

Ballard first asked if there were talks between the alleged victims and the prosecutor’s office victim’s advocate. He said the hardest part of the case is that there are so many counts, 21 in all.

“I’m assuming, because I still haven’t seen anything in the file other than the indictment, but I am assuming that each individual count relates to an allegation from an individual,” Ballard said.

Anderson confirmed that was correct.

“Then that is a lot of victims,” Ballard said, adding that with Ohio’s Marcy’s Law, there is a lot of consultation with the alleged victims and their rights to account for in this case. “If there is a proposed resolution to this case that would result in a change of plea and a joint recommendation for sentencing, I will need to confirm that all victims have been consulted with and, while victims do not direct how a case goes, they do have an absolute right to be present under the Constitution, to be at every hearing and have an opportunity to speak.”

Ballard also explained that if a defendant pleads guilty to charges, they have to admit guilt to the charges, while if they are found guilty by a jury, they do not have to admit guilt.

Ballard said he would require statements from all 21 alleged victims that they have been consulted before the court would hear any recommendations on sentencing. The victim’s advocate said that all but one had been contacted already.

“The court is not bound by any of these deals, so a joint recommendation can be presented, but does not have to be accepted by the court,” Ballard said. “I will always accept a change of plea” since that is the defendant’s right.”

The discussion turned to the trial date and how long the trial would be set for.

Anderson said that the case would require five–10 days and that it should be set for the first week of May.

Haslam said that that week wouldn’t work for him because he was set for oral arguments before the Fourth District Court of Appeals.

Anderson said that he had a trial set for the third week of May in Judge Christen Finley’s court.

It was finally set for May 9-20, even though it didn’t fall within the 90 days because the defense has to file for discovery of evidence which pauses the right to speedy trial for 30 days.

There will be another hearing on Wednesday.