Butler Twp. quadruple murder: What’s next for this death penalty case?

A judge ruled a man facing nearly two dozen charges in the August 2022 deaths of four people — a veteran and his wife, and a mother and her 15-year-old daughter — in Butler Twp. is incompetent to stand trial, but restorable.

Stephen Marlow, 40, was indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury on 12 aggravated murder charges, eight aggravated burglary charges and one count each of tampering with evidence and having weapons while under disability.

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. previously said the death penalty is “on the table” in the case.

Marlow is charged in the Aug. 5, 2022, deadly shootings of four neighbors: Clyde W. Knox, 82; his wife Eva “Sally” Knox, 78; Sarah J. Anderson, 41; and her daughter, Kayla E. Anderson, 15.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Dennis Adkins ordered Marlow committed to Summit Behavioral Healthcare in Cincinnati for treatment to restore him to competency. The facility is ordered to submit a report within six months, by May 29, 2024, detailing whether Marlow understands the court proceedings against him and whether he is capable of helping his defense.

What happened?

Around 11:35 a.m. on Aug. 5, 2022, Marlow is accused of walking into an open garage at 7120 Hardwicke Place and shooting Sarah Anderson. He then walked into the house and shot Kayla Anderson multiple times before returning to the garage and shooting Sarah Anderson again, according to a Vandalia Municipal Court affidavit.

Marlow allegedly went to 7214 Hardwick Place next and entered a detached garage and shot the Knoxes multiple times.

One witness heard gunshots and looked out the window and saw a man who matched Marlow’s description get into an SUV, according to the affidavit. The witness went to 7214 Hardwick Place, where he found the Knoxes dead in the garage.

Marlow was arrested the next day in Lawrence, Kansas.

Who is Stephen Marlow?

Marlow graduated from Butler High School in 2001 and graduated from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, according to background check obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

He lived and worked in Chicago as a trader from 2006 to 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile. He most recently lived with his parents on Haverstraw Avenue, one of the streets where a part of the shooting took place.

Marlow was convicted of aggravated burglary and aggravated menacing in February 2020 for breaking into a Damian Street home in Vandalia in July 2019 and threatening harm to a person there with a weapon.

He was sentenced to five years of probation, which was terminated Feb. 9, 2022. During the first part of his probation, he was ordered to have a mental health evaluation and was under intense supervision until December 2020, according to court records.

A grand jury indicted Marlow on 22 charges in November 2022 in connection to the four homicides.

Investigators collected home security footage from 7120 Hardwicke Place. They also served a search warrant Marlow’s parents’ home, where he lived, and found a manifesto on a computer believed to belong to Marlow.

The manifesto included his name and address and discussed conspiracy theories and beliefs his neighbors were sleeper cell terrorists, according to court records. He also reportedly mentioned hearing voices in his head that spoke to him.

Marlow rented a storage unit on Dixie Drive to keep firearms and hide them from his mother, according to court records.

Credit: Montgomery County Jail

Credit: Montgomery County Jail

Where does the case stand?

Marlow was found incompetent to stand trial, but able to be restored to competency.

He will be treated at Summit Behavioral Healthcare in Cincinnati and returned to the Montgomery County Jail once he’s able to understand the court proceedings against him and can help his defense, according to court records.

Last December, Marlow’s defense filed a not guilty by reason of insanity plea and filed a motion requesting a mental competency and serious mental illness evaluation, according to court records.

Adkins signed an order Feb. 10 for a second opinion for competency and sanity. The order noted there was a question as to Marlow’s present competence and whether he could work with his defense team, as well as a question to his sanity at the time of the incident.

The second report was due March 29. The judge filed an order April 10 for a third opinion, which was due May 17.

A hearing regarding Marlow’s competency took place Sept. 18 and 19, and Adkins on Nov. 29 ruled him incompetent but restorable.

What is next?

The judge ordered Marlow committed to Summit Behavior Healthcare in Cincinnati for treatment, including any necessary medications, to restore him to competency to stand trial.

The facility is to submit a report within six months regarding whether Marlow is competent for trial, meaning he understands the charges against him and is capable of assisting in his defense. Previous evaluations determined there is “substantial probability” Marlow can be restored to competency, according to court records.

If the facility’s report, due May 29, 2024, gives the opinion Marlow remains unable to understand the proceedings or to help his defense, the report will state whether it is believed further treatment could restore him to competency within the statutory time limits.

When Marlow was indicted in November 2022, Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said capital punishment was a possibility in the case. If it’s determined Marlow has a serious mental illness — which was the opinion of all three forensic psychologists who examined him — under Ohio law he will be ineligible for the death penalty.

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