COVID-19 again postpones hearing in Kettering dumpster murder case

Terrel Ross

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Terrel Ross

The coronavirus continued to make an impact on the local justice system Monday when a hearing had to be continued again due to COVID-19 concerns.

A motion to suppress hearing in the case alleging a man stabbed and dumped a woman’s body in a Kettering dumpster earlier this year was continued after a prosecuting attorney said a person in their household developed COVID-like symptoms a couple of days before.

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“The numbers of people infected with COVID in Montgomery County have reached an all-time high for the 2020 COVID pandemic with Montgomery County reaching the highest threat level of purple on Nov. 25,” the motion to continue said. “The undersigned followed state recommendations and avoided even family gatherings during the holiday weekend, which decreased potential exposure to all non-household members. However, the isolation increased exposure to household members.”

The defendant, Terrel Ross, is accused of killing 24-year-old Springfield High School graduate Sierra Woodfork on Jan. 12. Authorities say Ross first placed Woodfork in a closet and then inside a refrigerator in her Kettering apartment before moving her body to a dumpster. Ross has pleaded not guilty in the case and is being held on $1 million bond in the Montgomery County Jail.

The motion to suppress hearing was first set to be heard in July, but that date had to be rescheduled because Ross was quarantined in the jail relative to the COVID-19 virus, a court record says.

The Ross case isn’t the only case that has been continued due to COVID-19 concerns. Last month, a hearing in the case against Al Mutahan McLean and Amanda Hinze, the couple charged in 10-year-old Takoda Collins’ death, was continued after a police detective and prosecutor alerted the court that they couldn’t make the hearing because of coronavirus. The judge in the case said Hinze was also quarantined in the jail.

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Also, multiple murder trials, including the one against Victor Santana, were set to be tried this year but have been continued until next year because of coronavirus concerns.

The Montgomery County Common Pleas courts have made adjustments due to the pandemic. A statement issued to attorneys “strongly reminds counsel to wear a mask at all times while in the Montgomery County Courts Building, whether in the public hallways, courtrooms, or judges’ chambers.”

Signs have been placed throughout the courthouse mandating that masks are worn and that social distancing take place.

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