UPDATE: Ira Blair, Jr. Found Guilty On All Counts

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UPDATE 9/13/2014 6:00 PM

After more than ten hours of deliberation, the jury found Ira David Blair, Jr. guilty of burglary, felonious assault and murder in the death of Frank Stephens.

The victim's family say they can finally rest after over a year and a half of ups and downs.

"We've just been torn up and our brother did not deserve to die the horrible death that he died. I am so pleased at the outcome of this trial and I am so thankful there is justice in this world," said Rosemary Dennis, Stephens' sister.

The defendant's family also filled the courtroom saying there was plenty of evidence for the verdict to go the other way.

"You got Richard Haught running around the crime scene for eight hours. I mean, no blood on his clothes really? He didn't have any clothes they were gone. The detective decided to bring evidence to court to convict Ira Blair and that's it, bottom line" said James Mills, Blair's stepfather.

"He is a kind, caring and giving person. He would give the shirt off his back to anybody," said Joshua Sutton, Blair's brother.

"He was a wonderful child and he was a wonderful young man. And I can't see how 12 jurors couldn't see that. He was loving, kind, would not hurt anyone," said Nancy Keller, a family friend.

The court sentenced Blair to 15 years to life in prison. He will serve his burglary sentence, 15 months, at the same he's behind bars for his conviction of killing Stephens.

Blair can appeal the verdict.

UPDATE 9/12/2014 11:50 PM

The jury finds Ira Blair, Jr. guilty of the murder of Frank Stephens.

The verdict came back just after 11:30 pm Friday after ten hours of deliberation.

He's also found guilty on one count of burglary and one count of felonious assault.

UPDATE 9/12/2014 5:30 PM

The jury is deliberating in the murder trial of Ira Blair, Jr.

Blair is charged with murder in the death of Frank Stephens.

UPDATE 9/11/2014 5:05 PM

Accused of murder, Ira Blair, Jr. took the stand and told the jury he's not guilty.

He's accused of killing Frank Stephens.

The prosecution called their last witness by lunch.

Thursday morning they focused again on Blair's alibi, but also the facts and details, the evidence shows what happened.

The bruises on Blair's body were those of someone in a serious fight and Haught did not have a mark on him.

Two Marietta detectives spoke and a combat martial arts instructor, Joe Bigley.

The defense says certain fight moves may cause bruises.

But not everyone bruises the same and not every punch produces the same bruise.

Marietta detectives explained why they ruled out Richard Haught and Alan Barth as suspects.

The defense questioned a bloody towel left in the burn bucket.

There were a number of hours where Haught was sleeping alone in the trailer with a dead body but his testimony says he thought Stephens was passed out.

The defense alluded to the fact that someone tried to clean up the scene.

Thursday afternoon the defense brought Ira Blair, Jr. to the stand, as well as Ralph Hardy and Dr. Roger Anderson.

UPDATE 9/10/2014 5:30 PM

Prosecutors brought in forensic experts from the State of Ohio to testify in the murder trial of Ira Blair, Jr.

Wednesday's testimony focused on the blood evidence, which they say was found on Blair's clothing.

Wednesday afternoon the prosecution brought a DNA expert and the coroner to the stand.

The coroner testified that Frank Stephens died from internal bleeding by blunt force trauma.

The coroner says he didn't see any pattern of injury and the attacker did not use an object.

Rather, Stephens' bruises were the result of someone punching him.

Stephens also had bruises on the outside of his arms - a bruise the coroner says usually happens while defending yourself.

"He died as a result of multiple trauma in his head, chest and abdomen. It's from a homicide, the matter of death is a homicide - inflicted by another person," says Dr. Lee Lehman, Chief Deputy Coroner from Montgomery County.

When questioning the coroner, the defense asked when someone hits another with their fist, could bruising on the attackers hands be different - alluding to the fact that Blair had bruises on his hands and Richard Haught did not, but Richard Haught could still have hit Frank Stephens.

The coroner said that may be possible.

Along with the two witnesses Wednesday afternoon, the prosecution was able to show how the DNA and evidence made its way from the crime scene to the lab.

Ira Blair, Jr. took the stand while the jury was not in the room to testify against a Marietta Police detective in regards to how the evidence was transported.

UPDATE 9/9/2014 4:20 PM

A strong prosecution side Tuesday in the murder trial for Ira Blair, but also the defense brought to light, a factor which shook the courtroom.

Six witnesses were called to take the stand.

There was a lot of focus on the burglary which occurred at an apartment on Third Street.

David and Ali Martin were both called to the stand.

David Martin owns the apartment on Third Street where Ira Blair was found after Frank Stephens' death.

Ali Martin lives at the apartment.

During Blair's testimony he said he called Ali and she gave him permission to stay there that night.

During Ali's testimony, she said she doesn't know him at all.

She said she knew of him through her friend Trent Mason, but she says she did not give Blair permission to stay at the apartment.

Then, speaking with the neighbor Alan Barth, who changed the pace.

He was with Blair, Richard Haught and Stephens that night.

Richard Haught has since died of natural causes, but the defense is arguing he is the one who killed Stephens.

Barth's testimony, including what happened when and who left when conflicts with Blair's.

Barth was the one who called 911, after Haught called him the next morning to tell him Stephens was dead.

Barth says when he saw Haught that next morning, he was only wearing boxers.

But later that night after the police left, Barth says he saw Haught burning something in his backyard, and that could have been evidence.

The prosecution says it could have been anything.

BCI says Blair's injuries are not consistent with his story.

The prosecution showed photos taken of Blair that morning by MPD officer A.J. Linscott in the hospital.

Both Officer Linscott and Ohio BCI says his face, hands, arms were all bruised and bloody. They both testified that Blair's story did not match his injuries.

UPDATE 9/9/2014 10:45 AM

Ira Blair, Jr. faces a murder charge, but the defense brought about a surprise twist to opening arguments.

Murder, burglary and assault - the Marietta man faces it all.

Ira Blair, Jr. is on trial, accused of murder in the death of Frank Stevens.

He's charged with one count of burglary, one count of felonious assault and one count of murder.

Opening statements were Monday, presenting the facts to the jury.

The prosecution spoke about where police found Blair, what story he told them first and then how his story changed when they mentioned the name Frank Stevens.

There was only one witness Monday, Sgt. Rodney Hupp of the Marietta Police Department.

The defense explained why his story changed and they say the man who is actually guilty in the case is the other witness, Richard Haught.

This all happened April 1, 2013.

Haught died of natural causes after that.

Haught was the owner of the trailer and was there the night Stephens died.

The defense is trying to prove that Haught killed Frank Stevens, not Blair.

UPDATE 1/13/2014 4:30 PM

Trial is delayed for a man accused of murder.

Ira Blair, Jr.'s trial was set for Tuesday but was postponed.

His lawyer, Rolf Baumgartel tells WTAP News Blair Jr. changed his plea on the burglary charge, to not guilty by reason of insanity.
The plea change only involves the burglary charge, not the murder or felonious assault charges.

An evaluation will be done, postponing the trial.

Blair, Jr. was indicted in June for murder, felonious assault and burglary in the death of Frank Stephens.

UPDATE 6/4/2013

He's accused of killing a Marietta man.

Ira Blair Jr. was indicted by a Washington County Grand Jury.

Ira Blair Jr. was indicted on two counts of felony assault, one count of physical assault by deadly weapon and one count of serious physical harm by any means. Blair's charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count tampering with evidence. All in the case invovling the death of Frank Stevens.

Blair is also charged in another case, for trafficking heroin near school property.

"We are looking into the April 2, 2013 death of Frank Stephens at a residence on Grove Ave here in Marietta. Mr. Stevens body was discovered and it appears he died as a result of significant injuries inflicted to his torso, (and) his chest area," said Kevin Rings, Assistant Prosecutor, Washington County.

Blair's bond for all pending cases was set at $300,000.
His trial date is August 6th, at 9 AM.

UPDATE: 5/24/13

Ira David Blair Jr. is charged with the murder of Frank Stephens.

Blair was arrained in Marietta Municipal Court Friday morning. His bond is set at $500,000.

Blair's pre-trial is scheduled for Wednesday, May 29.

UPDATE: 5/23/2013 6:36 PM

He was beaten to death in a friend's trailer nearly two months ago.
On Thursday, police charged Ira David Blair Junior with Frank Stephens' murder.

Lab test results show the victim's blood was found on Blair. Frank Stephens was found dead in a trailer at 139 Groves Avenue in early April.

Witnesses say he was friends with Richard Haught, who lived there with Blair. According to witnesses, the three were drinking heavily at the trailer the night before Stephens' body was found.

While the scene was being processed, Marietta police officers were at Marietta Memorial Hospital with Blair. He was charged with burglary at a 3rd Street apartment.

Officers say Blair had injuries to his face and his hands were swollen and bruised. Autopsy results show Stephens died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, neck, and chest.

"Evidence that we obtained from the crime scene and from Mr. Blair we were able to show that Mr. Blair had bloodstains from the deceased on his person. As a result of that information we were able to charge Ira Blair with murder," says Marietta Police Detective Sgt. Greg Nohe.

Blair will be arraigned Friday at 8 a.m. Detective Nohe says Blair could face more charges.

He also says there may be more arrests in the connection with the murder.


UPDATE: 5/23/2013 11:41 AM

Ira David Blair Junior is charged with murder in the April 2nd death of Frank Stephens.

Lab test results show the victim's blood was found on Blair.

Frank Stephens was found dead at 139 Groves Avenue in early April.

While the scene was being processed, Marietta Police officers were at Marietta Memorial Hospital with Blair. He was charged with burglary at a 3rd Street apartment.

Officers say Blair had injuries to his face and his hands were swollen and bruised. Blair lived at 139 Groves Avenue, where Stephens' body was found.

Autopsy results show Stephens died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, neck, and chest.

Blair will appear in court Friday.

UPDATE: 4/3/2013 6:16 PM

At about 12:30 Tuesday afternoon Marietta police responded to 139 Groves Avenue.

They found the body of Stephens inside that trailer. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

The Bureau of Criminal Investigation processed the crime scene and police executed a search warrant.

Captain Jeff Waite could not say whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in Stephens' death. They have ordered a toxicology report.

"Officers are conducting an investigation. We're working this as a possible homicide until we can figure out what actually caused the death. Two officers are currently at the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office tending to the autopsy for any clues or evidence they may be able to obtain from that and today we are continuing to interview witnesses to the incident," says Captain Waite.

Authorities say no one has been charged in the case.

The family declined to comment at this time. The funeral will be held at McClure-Lankford funeral home. A date and time has not been announced.

UPDATE: 4/3/2013 10:42 AM

Marietta Police Department Captain Jeff Waite says the body of Frank Stephens, 68, was found at 139 Groves Avenue Tuesday afternoon. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

No word yet on the cause of death.

Officers are in Montgomery County where the autopsy is being performed.

Captain Waite says there is no suspect at this point, but they are continuing to work on the investigation.

UPDATE: 4/2/2013 10:39 PM

Crime scene tape surrounds the trailer at 139 Groves Avenue. That's where authorities are investigating a murder.

Authorities found the dead body in this trailer on Groves Avenue Tuesday afternoon. since then, the body has been transported to Montgomery County where they'll perform an autopsy.

Police say the 68-year-old victim died less than 24 hours before they arrived on scene.

And in that short time, suspicions are swirling in the community.

"Everybody's heard about it.Iit's just nobody knows exactly what happened," says Jason Oakley, who works just down the road.

We may not know what happened until the autopsy is complete, but preliminary results could take more than a week.

For people working and living in the area, it's a cause for concern.

"Somebody got murdered I guess right up the road. Kind of makes me nervous, but not too bad," says Oakley.

Neighbors say they didn't hear anything out of the ordinary before discovering the body.

The Bureau of Criminal Investigation processed the crime scene and Marietta police executed a search warrant.

Attempts to gather evidence that may help in a future arrest.

Police say there is no suspect right now, but they're interviewing potential witnesses.

They expect to release the victim's name sometime Wednesday morning.

The Marietta Police Department is investigating the death of a 68-year-old Marietta man.

Authorities got the call about a body that was found inside a trailer at 139 Groves Avenue in Marietta.

The victim does not live at this location, but is an acquaintance of the home owner.

Officials say this is being treated as a homicide.

There are no suspects, but police are interviewing witnesses.

The deceased male, whose name is being withheld at this time, is was born in 1944 and was a resident of Marietta.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation & Identification is coming in to process the scene, and the body will be sent to Montgomery Co. For an autopsy. Officials expect to have the autopsy back within a week.

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