IRONTON, OH (WOWK) –
UPDATE (2/28/2019 2:35 p.m.):
The three-judge panel has sentenced 24-year-old Arron Lawson to death for the 2017 murders of Stacey Holsten, her 8-year-old son Devin, Tammie McGuire, and Don McGuire.
Lawson faced a charge of aggravated murder for each of his victims.
On top of the 4 sentences of death he received on Thursday afternoon, Lawson was also sentenced to 11 years for attempted murder, 11 years for aggravated burglary, 12 months for abuse of a corpse, 11 years for kidnapping, 3 years for tampering with evidence, 18 months for theft of a motorvehicle, and 3 years for failure to comply with orders from law enforcement for a total of 59.5 years behind bars for those additional charges.
Lawson will also have to register as a child victim offender for the kidnapping charge.
13 News spoke to Lawson’s attorney, Kirk McVay, after the sentencing.
“It’s just hard to know someone’s life was placed in my hands and I was not able to succeed,” said McVay.
McVay tells 13 News that appeals in cases like Lawson’s are automatic.
Lawson’s case marks the first time anyone has been sentenced to death in the State of Ohio since the 1960s.
All three judges had to agree unanimously to sentence Lawson to death.
UPDATE (2/28/2019 1:20 p.m.):
Deliberations are currently underway in the murder trial of Arron Lawson after closing arguments were made Thursday morning.
It is the brutal crime that has shocked the moral conscience of this community and maybe… just maybe, the community will now be able to begin the healing process once the judges come back with a sentence for Arron Lawson.
The three judge panel overseeing Lawson’s case continues to deliberate on whether or not they will sentence Lawson to death for the aggravated murders of Stacey Jackson, Devin Holsten, Tammie McGuire and Don McGuire.
Deliberations started at 10:36 a.m. Thursday morning.
The prosecution hopes death is the sentence the three judge panel gives Lawson for each of the four counts of aggravated murder he has pleaded guilty, and has been found guilty, of committing.
This morning the defense argued that Lawson was remorseful when he turned himself in without any incident.
The defense said that Lawson confessed to everything he did very shortly after being taken into custody, and even gave investigators answers to questions they weren’t asking.
The defense argued, too, that Lawson did not have any support from his family or had any possible role models in his life.
The defense did say that Lawson’s mother loved him, but asked the court if love itself was enough.
On the other hand, Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson talked about how Lawson did have a caring family, citing that Lawson’s mother, although mentally ill, sought out treatment for Lawson.
That treatment included help from mental health professionals.
Prosecutor Anderson argued that Lawson was not abandoned, but was instead supported all of his life by his father, his stepbrothers, and even his mother throughout the week at his trial.
“This was revenge for his rejection. Stacey rejected him in some way,” said Prosecutor Anderson. “Justice for Stacey is a sentence of death. Justice for Devin is a sentence of death. Justice for Tammie is a sentence of death. Justice for Don is a sentence of death,” Prosecutor Anderson said passionately.
Deliberations are still underway, but the three judges are expected to make a ruling today.
In order for Lawson to receive the death penalty, all three judges on the panel must agree unanimously on that sentence.
Stay with 13 News for the very latest on this trial and be sure to tune into our live feed of the judges’ decision on our FaceBook page.
UPDATE (2/28/2019 10:40 a.m.):
Closing arguments have concluded in the Arron Lawson murder trial.
Judge Ballard called a recess for deliberations to take place at 10:36 a.m.
UPDATE (2/28/2019 7:00 a.m.):
The sixth day of the Arron Lawson murder trial will continue this morning with the prosecution and defense making their closing arguments.
Lawson has been found guilty of murdering four people, including an 8 year old boy, back in October of 2017.
Closing arguments are schedule to begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Lawrence County Courthouse.
Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson tells 13 News the court will most likely issue a sentence today.
However, just like we have all seen from the beginning, this has not been a regular trial by any means.
Lawson took the stand on Tuesday to make his unsworn statements where he apologized for what he did but expected no sympathy from the jugdes.
Anderson says Lawson will not be able to make any other remarks today and that the same goes for any family members.
Following closing arguments, the three judge panel will begin deliberating.
Lawson is facing the death penalty for each of the 4 counts of aggravated murder.
In order for Lawson to receive the death penalty, all three judges on the panel must agree unanimously on that sentence.
Stay with 13 News for continuing coverage on air and online.
You can catch a live stream of the closing arguments this morning by going to our FaceBook page.
UPDATE (2/27/2019 6:30 p.m.):
Testimony continued as day five of the trial of Arron Lawson began. Lawson is the man accused of killing four of his family members, Stacy and 8-year-old Devin Holsten, and Stacy’s parents, Tammie and Don McGuire.
Forensic physchologist and expert witness, Dr. Bob Stinson said Lawson suffered from abandonment issues and talked about borderline personalty disorder Lawson struggled with. Stinon said it was noteworthy to mention that a lot so of the allegations of abuse we unsubstantiated and said he was suprised at how many allegations were made. Stinson said it was also noteworthy that Lawson made his allegations in some in context to hospitals, his mother, police, and mental health professionals.
Stinson testified that Lawson was diagnosed by mental health professional as suffering from PTSD due to the things he dealt with in the past. Past abuse was cited as the basis for Lawson’s PTSD but records did not specify if it was abuse from his dad, stepmom, or elsewhere. Stinson also reiterated his points from last night right before the defense was done questioning him.
During cross examination, prosecutor Brigham Anderson argued that Dr. Stinson did not diagnose Lawson as having multi-personality disorder in any of the reports he presented. Anderson asked Stinson to show him in the reports where he made that diagnosis. Stinson testified that was not the point of the reports. Anderson brought up the positive influences in Lawson’s life like his aunt Linda, and Carl.
Dr. Stinson testified it was a high number of points compared to other reports and said the 97 reports were to be seen as observations based on his report and that he had a footnote at the end of the report saying he came to his conclusions based on all the research he made and that he could change his opinion based on new evidence. Stinson testified Lawson likes to read and he was first hospitalized in 2011 after the incident where Lawson chased a man with a butch knife.
During that hospitalization, Dr. Stinson testified Lawson reported on a questionaire his favorite things were picnics, cookouts, friends and video games. That questionaire also showed Lawson responded “yes” to the question, ‘Have you been abused?’ and his Lawson’s response of “family” to the question, ‘What makes you angry?'”
Anderson then brings up records showed abuse came from Lawon’s stepbrothers. Dr. Stinson said he’s suspicious Lawson was sexually abused even though there are no reports of this allegation and even though Lawson himself never indicated this.
Anderson also asked about comments Lawson allegedly made to a cellmate. According to Anderson, Lawson told a cellmate he only felt remorse for killing Devin and braggeda about ‘being a good shot.”
Dr. Stinson acknowledged he had heard these reports as well and said it was possible Lawson may have said those things with an ulterior motive so he wouldn’t be preyed upon while incarcerated. The defense ojected and asked both the previous question and answer be stricken from the record and the judges agreed.
Anderson asked Stinson about PTSD factors and triggers. Stinson testified when a trigger happens, it activates and exacerbates the symptoms of PTSD. Stinson testifed Lawson clearly made it known the death of his aunt, Linda, as a triggering event. Stinson said Lawson had a general sense of abandonment and said Lawson described being abandoned by his mother and stepmother. Anderson questioned the legitimacy of some of Lawson’s medical problems being traumatic. Anderson asked more questions about protective factors. Stinson testifed he was tyring to convey that protective factors are part of a system or process that is “broad-based” and happens throughout life, not just one particular instance.
Stinson testifed to the signifigance of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and said it disrupts neurological development. Stinson testified Lawson had an ACE score of 9 and the cummulative effect of five or more ACE significantly increases health risks. McVey asked the ACE increased Lawson’s risk to commit suicide and Stinson said, “yes.”
At 2:15, Lawson’s half-sister, Stephanie Bentley, took the stand. Bentley testifed she is currently on probation and recently served a jail sentence for felony burglary. Bently and Lawson share the same mother, Carolyn Taylor. Bentley described Lawson has outgoing, loving, caring, a good listener, and not a trouble-maker or aggressive towards others.
Bentley testifed that Delbert Lawson, Arron’s father, was a father figure to her, but later also testifed he was a “drunk” and it was “everyday” and “all day long.” Bentley testified she raised her sister on her own and that her grandmother, whom she lived with, was a hoarder and beat her and her sister growing up. Bentley testified her mother, Carolyn Taylor, is close with all her children.
Bentley said Lawson began to distance himself after the death of his Aunt Linda. Bentley testified her death “still affects him to this day.” Bentley said she visits Lawson when he is at the Lawrence County Jail and said the two are very close. Bentley testifed Lawson got in trouble for everything growing up.
When asked how she would feel if Lawson received the death penalty, Bentley testified she would “be devastated.”
The defense rested and judges told the state to prepare to address restitution issues Thursday morning; closing arguments at slated to begin at 8:30 a.m.
UPDATE (2/26/2019 3:48 p.m.):
Arron Lawson, who has pleaded guilty to the killings of four people, has just given his unsworn statement on the stand.
Lawson stated to the three-judge panel that he has flashbacks and cries all the time.
Lawson said there’s no way to say how sorry he is and that it’s difficult for him to show emotion.
Lawson said he does not expect sympathy and he accepts whatever the court decides.
“I have peace with whatever you give me,” said Lawson to the panel.
Stay with 13 News for the latest on this case.
UPDATE (2/26/2019 3:30 p.m.):
The mitigation phase of Arron Lawson’s murder trial continued just before 11:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Forty-five exhibits the defense had argued about earlier in the morning were sustained by the judge panel, meaning they would not be allowed to be submitted into evidence for this phase of the trial.
The rest of the exhibits were overruled.
Tuesday morning, the defense called its first witness, Carolyn Taylor.
Taylor is Lawson’s mother.
She told the defense she was nervous, especially since she had been threatened.
She would reveal in the early hours of the afternoon that she had been threatened via calls and voicemails from blocked phone numbers.
The defense asked her about her family life as well as Arron’s childhood.
About her childhood, Taylor revealed she had heard allegations of child abuse but that she was too young to know what was going on.
Taylor said she first got married at 17 to a Lester Risner.
Taylor was 3 weeks away from graduating high school but says she quit school to take care of one of her sons whom at the time was a baby.
Taylor told the court she had a total of 5 children and revealed to the court she was abused by Lester Risner.
Taylor said she separated from Risner after 9 months but that they remained married for 20 years because she was scared to go to him with divorce papers.
Following her separation form Risner, Taylor said she then met Ray Lawson, Arron’s biological father, through her brother.
She testified she was together with Ray Lawson for a month, but that they split after she found out she was pregnant.
She claimed Ray Lawson said that he wasn’t the father and wanted a DNA test to be done back in 1995.
Taylor went on to explain how she had no means of income at the time her son Arron was born.
Taylor said they received public assistance from an apartment complex she lived at.
While living there, she said she had worked at McDonald’s, Golden Corral, and at the Ironton Tribune as a paper carrier, but that the paper route was too much for her to keep up with her car.
Taylor testified she lost custody of her children around 1995.
Lawson was born in April of 1994.
Taylor said she lost custody of the kids after losing her job and moving in with her sister.
According to Taylor, her sister’s mother in law did not like her and called social services.
Taylor testified that social services gave her the option to sign her kids over to her mother, or they’d take them away.
Taylor said Arron Lawson had already been separated from the children by this time as his father wanted custody shortly after Lawson was born.
Taylor went on to explain that after she separated from Ray that he drank “a case and a half every time he drunk.”
Taylor said Ray didn’t drink that much until he and Martha, Taylor’s best friend, got together.
Taylor said she did have visitation rights to Arron and the rest of the kids and that she regained custody of Arron in 2011 while she was dating a man named Carl.
Taylor testified she saw injuries on Arron when she got custody.
Taylor said she drained Arron’s ears and saw a dark, orange substance come from them when she did so.
Taylor said she took Arron to Dr. Ng in Coal Grove and that Dr. Ng said it looked like someone took the eraser end of a pencil, took the rubber eraser out, and jabbed it inside Arron’s ears multiple times.
Taylor also testified that Ray and Martha took Lawson to Dr. Ng for regular checkups.
Taylor also spoke about a time when Lawson was shot in the eye with an airsoft gun.
Taylor testified that Lawson did have friends, but that he was also a loner.
Taylor said some of Lawson’s classmates bullied him.
Taylor then spoke about Tammy McGuire, her sister, and called McGuire her best friend.
Taylor also spoke about Linda, Ray Lawson’s sister, who was “like a second mom to Arron.”
Taylor said Linda died in a house fire when Arron was 8; Linda’s death devastated Arron and him angry.
Taylor testified that a boy had once told Arron he was glad Linda died.
This, according to Taylor, prompted Lawson to chase him up the yard with a butcher knife.
Taylor said she took Lawson to see a psychologist.
Lawson was able to have virtual sessions with a psychologist in Florida, according to Taylor.
Taylor said Lawson was hospitalized for 2 weeks in a Cincinnati hospital over mental health issues and that, upon release, counselors checked in on Lawson for “a couple of months.”
Taylor was asked about Lawson’s relationship with Todd Holsten and Stacey Jackson.
Taylor said Lawson babysat a lot for Holsten, had dinner with them, and socialized with them.
Taylor testified that Lawson was there “all of the time,” and that Lawson was “good with the boys,” as he spent a lot of time with them.
Taylor described Lawson as someone who would take the shirt off of his back to help someone out, and that he helped others move, helped babysit, and would even go grocery shopping for others.
This is why, Taylor said, the murders took her by surprise.
She testified that she would be there for her son “no matter what,” and when asked about the fact Lawson was facing the death penalty, she said “no parent wants to see their child go before them. No parent.”
The defense then asked if Taylor had anything she would like to say to the judges.
Taylor then said “thank you for all you’ve done and I as just please, please.”
At this point, Prosecutor Anderson called for an objection and moved to strike her comments.
The judge panel agreed with Prosecutor Anderson.
Cross examination began a at 12:56 p.m.
Prosecutor Anderson asked about the alleged threats Taylor says were made.
Prosecutor Anderson asked Taylor if she was instructed to report any threats.
Taylor said yes, but that she never did.
Next, Prosecutor Anderson brought up the fact that while Lawson was 16 when Taylor regained custody of him in 2011, Lawson stayed with Carl, the man Taylor was with, years after Taylor had moved out.
Taylor then testified that Lawson did not live with her from the time he was 16 until he was 23.
Taylor said she supported Lawson financially when Lawson moved back in with her.
Taylor was asked about helping out at the city mission.
Taylor said she was at the mission on the day the murders happened.
Prosecutor Anderson asked her about Todd Holsten and Stacey Jackson’s relationship with Arron Lawson.
Taylor said they were always friends and that “there’s no way in the world a mother would think her son did those crimes.”
Taylor testified that Lawson told her he didn’t do it.
Taylor said Lawson told her he had got to the trailer in the afternoon, saw Stacey laying there and that
Todd Holsten began attacking him; that’s when Taylor said Lawson told her he began to stab Todd Holsten.
According to Taylor’s testimony, Lawson had been at Todd Holsten and Stacey Jackson’s house the night before the murders.
Taylor said Holsten brought Lawson home that night and that they both appeared to be fine.
Taylor said Lawson then went on to grab a movie and headed to his room.
Taylor stated that sometime after the murders Arron told her he was in love with Stacey and that Stacey was “the love of his life.”
In redirect, the defense asked again about Lawson not being truthful with her in the aftermath of the murders even though he had recently pled guilty to all of the charges.
The defense argued that Lawson may not have wanted to tell his mother everything so that she wouldn’t have to answer questions about it.
The judges then called for recess at 1:50 p.m. until 2:20 p.m.
Stay with 13 News for continuing coverage.
UPDATE (2/26/2019 10:30 a.m.):
The mitigation phase of Arron Lawson’s murder trial began Tuesday morning at 9:28 a.m.
Tuesday morning, the prosecution moved to admit several exhibits into evidence from the trial phase into the mitigation phase.
The defense would object to many of them citing some of these exhibits did not have anything to do with the aggravated circumstances of the crimes.
Other exhibits, the defense argued, were repetitive in nature citing several pictures of the same knife on top of a dresser and duplicate photographs of a Taco Bell receipt.
The defense also moved for some pictures of the victims to be dismissed citing their repetitive nature and the defense’s belief the pictures don’t go to show the aggravated circumstances of the crimes.
Judge Ballard asked for the court room to be cleared at 10:12 a.m. so he and the rest of the panel could review the exhibits off the record as the exhibits were already in the court room.
Ballard stated that everyone, including the media, would get a long enough notice to know when they could come back in and that there would be a recess following their findings.
Stay with 13 News for the latest updates.
UPDATE (2/25/2019 2:25 p.m.):
The State rested at 1:19 p.m. Judge asked defense attorney Kirk McVey if he had anything to present and he said no, including no witnesses.
Closing arguments started and prosecuting attorney Brigham Anderson went into details and showed the photos of each of the victims at the time of their deaths.
During much of this time, Lawson appears to be reading a document in front of him.
In McVey’s closing argument he said the rape charge shouldn’t stand but instead be considered abuse of a corpse.
McVey finished his close at 2:13 p.m.
Anderson countered his claim by stating Lawson intended to rape Stacy because he brought a condom with him. Anderson also cited Ohio law stating that if the victim is dead or dies during the course of the crime it is still rape.
The judges are deliberating the charges and stipulations and are expected to reconvene this afternoon.
UPDATE (2/25/19 2:05 PM):
Warning: Some of the details in this story are graphic in nature.
The third day of Arron Lawson’s murder trial began at 9:16 a.m. Monday morning.
Lawson appeared in court today with a purple button up shirt, khaki pants, glasses, an overgrown beard and messy hair.
Detective Sergeant Aaron Bollinger with the Lawrence County Sherriff’s Department retook the stand to finish up his testimony.
As Bollinger testified, Lawson could be seen laughing about something with his counsel.
Bollinger testified about the fact Lawson’s name had been changed in the year 2000 from Arron Risner to Aaron Lawson.
Bollinger also testified that the firearm used in the murders held 3 rounds, while 5 total rounds were found at the crime scene.
There were some things Bollinger said he was unable to confirm based on information given to him by Lawson.
The main thing Bollinger was unable to confirm was the sexual relationship Lawson claimed to have with Stacey Jackson.
Bollinger said he was also unable to confirm if Lawson had stayed at that home in the past.
Bollinger testified that Lawson told him he had stayed there “a year ago,” but Bollinger’s investigation revealed that Stacey Jackson and Todd Holsten had not yet lived in that home during the dates Lawson claimed to have stayed there.
Bollinger said he could not confirm Lawson didn’t know Devin was going to his grandparents and doesn’t know why Lawson would call the school so Devin would be brought to the house.
Following this testimony, judges began to speak quietly and asked counsel to approach at 9:36 a.m.
Lawson was also called up to approach the bench by one of his lawyers.
The exchange would last a few minutes.
Prior to beginning his cross examination, Kirk McVay, Lawson’s attorney, asked for a moment to confer with both Lawson and the other defense attorney.
McVay asked Bollinger about Lawson’s lack of a criminal record.
Bollinger testified Lawson did not have one.
McVay also asked about Lawson’s name to which Bollinger replied Lawson told him it was okay to call him
Aaron even though Lawson had state his name was Arron.
McVay then went on to focus his questions around whether or not the caller ID at the school was verified, as well as the time stamp on that phone.
Bollinger said the time stamp on the school’s phone was correct with that of his cell phone but that investigators had not verified this in any way.
Next, McVay brought up Desiree McClain, Stacey Jackson’s half-sister.
Bollinger testified that McClain had been messaging Jackson via FaceBook Messenger the day before the murders.
At this time, Prosecutor Brigham Anderson called an objection, which was sustained by Judge Andrew Ballard.
According to Bollinger’s testimony, McClain brought him a cell phone in which messages showed Jackson wanted Lawson to go home that night.
Again, an objection was introduced by prosecutors saying that this was the same line of questioning that was approached before.
Judges would begin discussing this issue quietly and ended up agreeing with the prosecution.
Mr. McVay went on to ask about other pieces of evidence, including the Vienna sausages found in the trash can, which Lawson apparently fed to two-year-old Braxton Holsten.
On redirect, the prosecution clarified things about the time stamps on the school cell phone, which was discussed earlier in the article.
The next witness to be called was BCI Forensic Scientist Hallie Dreyer.
Dreyer is a forensic scientist in BCI’s DNA Unit and was entered as an expert witness.
Dreyer testified about the DNA profiles found on the knife handle, which primarily to Todd Holsten, but also found traces of Don McGuire and Lawson’s DNA on it.
The DNA on the blade of the knife, according to Dreyer, belonged to Todd Holsten.
Dreyer said the interior and exterior of the condom found at the scene was examined for DNA.
The exterior side of the condom, Dreyer said, revealed Stacey Jackson’s DNA and another sample that was not suitable for comparison.
The exterior of the condom also revealed a sperm profile, according to Dreyer.
Dreyer’s testimony revealed that Lawson was found to be a major contributor to the sperm’s profile, but
Todd Holsten was also listed as a minor contributor.
The interior of the condom, Dreyer said, revealed both Jackson and Lawson’s DNA.
Dreyer said that the sperm fraction of the sample inside the interior of the condom was a mixed sample.
According to Dreyer, Lawson was a major contributor to that sample, while Todd Holsten was a minor contributor.
A rape kit was also performed on Stacey Jackson.
According to Dryer’s testimony, the vaginal swab found Lawson’s DNA was a major contributor, while Todd Holsten’s DNA was a minor contributor.
Dryer also testified that the rectal swab found the same conclusion.
The prosecution asked Dryer if Holsten’s sample was consistent with him and Jackson having sex 2 to 3 days before the swab.
Dryer said yes.
While not brought up in court up to this point, a rumor has surfaced the area saying Lawson believed he was Braxton Holsten’s biological father.
Again, this rumor has not been brought up in court.
However, paternity tests were performed on both Devin and Braxton Holsten.
Dryer testified that there was a 99.999% chance Todd Holsten was Devin Holsten’s biological father and that there was a 99.9999% chance Todd Holsten was Braxton Holsten’s biological father.
During cross-examination, the defense offered different scenarios on how fluids could have been transferred.
Dryer testified that in a living person, drainage could occur given the fact the vagina and rectum are so close in proximity, but that it would be much harder for this to happen in a deceased person.
That being said, Dryer also said it was possible that taking a swab could have caused a transfer of fluids.
The prosecution, during redirect, asked Dryer about the quantities of DNA found inside Stacey Jackson.
Dryer said the quantities of Lawson’s DNA were significant, but that she could not answer definitively if this was a result of contact or drainage.
There were some follow up questions from the bench, in which Dryer went on to explain that tails were present in the sperm of the original sample, meaning that the sample was recent at the time it was taken.
The bench also asked for Dryer to state on the record what type of exhibits she had been given so that the record would show she was handed photographs and not, for example, the knife and shotgun.
Recess was called at 11:45 a.m.
Prosecutor Anderson said he would need to speak to Mr. McVay about the objections they both had before reconvening at 1:00 p.m.
Prosecutor Anderson tells 13 News that closing arguments should take place this afternoon, which will conclude the first phase of Lawson’s trial.
The second phase would begin tomorrow, with Mr. McVay calling witnesses, presumably to argue why Mr.
Lawson does not deserve the death penalty.
Stay with 13 News for the latest on this case.
UPDATE (2/24/19 9:25 PM):
Warning: Some of the details in this story are graphic in nature.
The afternoon started with Detective Sargent Bollinger with the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department on the stand. Bollinger explain he was in Columbus when he got a call stating there was a shooting and he said he came back to Lawrence County immediately.
Bollinger testified an officer was preparing a search warrant when he received a call stating Lawson was recently seen by people at a local man’s home. Anderson then asks Bollinger to describe the photos and the timestamps on them showing Lawson arriving and leaving the man’s home the night of the shooting between 11:24 p.m. and 11:47 p.m. Bollinger also testified he was able to prove Lawson was there because he interview the people in the home.
Bollinger testified LCSD obtained arrest warrants October 12 and on October 13 he was on his way to the command center when he heard on the radio Lawson was on US 52 in the custody of troopers with the Ohio Highway Patrol. Bollinger testified he changed Lawson’s handcuff’s and took him now to the courthouse. Anderson then enters the video interview of Lawson into evidence. The video is a little more than an hour long. The video shows Lawson coming into an office in the courthouse where he sits with Bollinger and another detective. Lawson is wearing a baggy camouflage coat and appears calm. Bollinger tells Lawson he appreciates his cooperation.
Lawson tells Bollinger he thinks he finished 11th grade at Coal Grove High School. Bollinger told Lawson they would get him something to eat in a little bit. Bollinger asked if Lawson had a phone and he said no, then Bollinger read him his rights. Lawson tells Bollinger he is very sorry. Bollinger changes his position from behind the desk to the side of the desk in front of Lawson. Lawson explains to Bollinger his six-month intimate relationship with Stacy and said that nobody knew. Lawson tells Bollinger he knows when Todd goes to work and tells him he put a Power Rangers book in the window to prop it open so he could get in the home the next morning.
Lawson tells Bollinger Stacy came out of the bathroom and he shot her. Bollinger asks whose gun it was and Lawson stated the name of the relative. When Bollinger asked Lawson where he shot her he said “I think in the chest.” Bollinger asked Lawson if she said anything to him and Lawson said to Bollinger, “she didn’t say anything.” Lawson told Bollinger the 2-year-old was a sleep in the master bedroom. Lawson then tells Bollinger about calling the school to have Devin ride the bus home. Lawson then tells Bollinger he made sure the 2-year-old was okay, fed him, and changed his diaper.
Lawson tells Bollinger he drug Stacy’s body from the main hallway. When Bollinger asks Lawson if he had sex with her Lawson said, “yes.” Lawson tells Bollinger he used a condom and he put it in the garbage in the kitchen. Lawson then tells Bollinger he put a blanket on Stacy.
Lawson talks to Bollinger about what happens when Devin arrives from school. Lawson said Devin was complaining asking where his mom and dad where and that’s when he told him there was a Playstation 3 in his room and to go look for it. Bollinger asked if Devin said anything to Lawson before he shot him and Lawson said, “he didn’t say anything.” Lawson tells Bollinger Devin did not see his mom.
Lawson then tells Bollinger what happens when Stacy’s mom, Tammie McGuire, gets there. Lawson tells Bollinger he was hiding behind a door. Bollinger asks Lawson if she said anything to him before he shot her and Lawson said, “I know it was you.” Lawson tells Bollinger he shot her twice. Lawson tells Bollinger Stacy had buckshot in cabinets and drawers. Lawson tells Bollinger Tammie was lying in the kitchen floor and he dragger her to the laundry area. Lawson tells Bollinger the 2-year-old is still asleep. Lawson said he took Tammie’s phone and put it in a bucket of water but doesn’t know why.
Lawson then tells Bollinger Stacy’s dad, Don, walked to the front of the home because he couldn’t get in through the back. Lawson tells Bollinger he shot him in the chest and dragged him to Devin’s room. Lawson said Todd pulled in after that and because he was out of shells, he stabbed him. Lawson said he used a silver pocket knife and then tells Bollinger Todd “grabbed a hold of me and asked why are you doing this?” Lawson said Todd asked where Stacy and the kids were.
Lawson tells Bollinger he did not know Devin wasn’t supposed to come home that day he just wanted to make sure he did. Lawson told Ballinger he told the school he was Todd. Bollinger asked Lawson about going to Walmart and Lawson tells Bollinger his mind help telling him to “drive around.” Lawson tells Bollinger he bought a shirt, pants, socks, and a DVD player. Bollinger asks if he shop-lifted and Lawson said no. Lawson tells Bollinger he got the money from a drawer at Todd’s house.
Lawson then describes to Bollinger where he went to get marijuana. Bollinger asked if he had a phone on him and Lawson said no. Lawson show Bollinger scratches he incurred from being in the woods. Lawson tells Bollinger he was hiding behind homes and that he did not have a weapon. Lawson tells Bollinger he did not cut Tammie’s tongue out and that he shot her twice. Lawson tells Bollinger he “kept running and running” and that at one point someone shot at him and said, “Boy don’t you run anymore.”
Lawson tells Bollinger there’s a backpack in the spare bedroom that had supplies in it because he thought he’d be out in the woods for days. Lawson tells Bollinger “I didn’t want to run anymore.” Bollinger gets up and leaves the room and Lawson is seen sitting with the other detective. Lawson tells the detective he just wants to tell the truth and that his mind said “run, run, run.” Lawson tells the detective he didn’t have anything else in him. Lawson said he covered up with twigs and leaves and said he could hear a helicopter fly over him several times.
Lawson is then seen in the video putting his hands to his face. Lawson asks the detective if he can have a sandwich in a minute, adding he hadn’t eaten anything in two days. Lawson tells the detective he couldn’t hurt the 2-year-old because he watched him everyday. Bollinger comes back in the room and asks Lawson where he put the clothes he had on before Walmart and Lawson tells Bollinger they are behind the seat of the truck. Bollinger tells Lawson he needs to take his clothes, some photos of Lawson, and consent to obtain DNA. Bollinger then tells Lawson they will get him some food.
Lawson tells Bollinger he did it because he was hurt. Bollinger asks Lawson if he’s genuinely sorry. Lawson tells Bollinger Stacy wanted to call off their relationship “about a week ago.” Bollinger asks Lawson if he was afraid Stacy would tell Todd and he said, “yes.” Lawson tells Bollinger he had eight slugs and one buckshot and a family member let him use the gun to hunt. Bollinger asks Lawson to sign consent for a DNA sample. Bollinger asks Lawson if he does drugs and Lawson tells him he just uses marijuana. Bollinger asks Lawson if he has Facebook and Lawson gives him his email and password.
The video ends and Bollinger testifies he spoke to Anderson as well as Special agent Hanshaw, who came to the courthouse to take photos and gather evidence. Bollinger said they went back to the scene and got the Power Rangers book, black backpack, empty box of ammo, kitchen garbage containing shell casings, an empty condom wrapper, Vienna sausages and diapers. Bollinger said they never found a PlayStation 3.
Anderson then asked to enter into evidence video surveillance of Lawson in Walmart. Defense attorney Kirk McVey objected saying it was a waste of the court’s time because Lawson already pleaded guilty and it wasn’t relevant. Anderson, Kirk, and the judges then discussed further. Judge Ballard sustained the objection.
UPDATE (2/22/19 2:15 PM):
The second day of 24-year-old Arron Lawson’s three judge panel trial began with Judge Ballard warning everyone in the courtroom there would be a lot of emotional evidence.
Ballard gave everyone in court one last chance to leave the room before the trial would continue.
The evidence Ballard spoke of would include graphic pictures of the bloody bodies of Tammy McGuire, Don McGuire, Stacey Jackson, and 8-year-old Devin Holston.
Friday morning, Lawson came in wearing a green button up shirt and khaki pants.
He still has a full beard, a full head of hair, and was wearing glasses.
Those in the gallery would remain silent for what would unfold over the next few hours.
The prosecution would continue to question its witness, BCI Special Agent Shane Hanshaw.
The prosecution introduced photograph after photograph into evidence.
Over 200 exhibits, including a shot gun and shell casings, would be introduced.
One of the first photographs the prosecution presented was one of a tongue.
Hanshaw would testify that tongue belonged to Tammy McGuire.
Hanshaw says investigators realized it was McGuire’s tongue when they found her body and opened her mouth.
A picture of investigators doing exactly that was also introduced into evidence.
That picture, along others, of Tammy McGuire showed her bloodied.
She had two holes on the back of her shoulders.
The prosecution then showed a picture of the body of Don McGuire.
He had a hole on the front, right side of his chest and the t-shirt he was wearing appeared, as BCI Special Agent Hanshaw put it, “saturated.”
The prosecution then showed a close up picture of Don McGuire, at which time the defense called an objection.
The court would go off the record around 9:36 a.m. for a sidebar conference.
During this time, Lawson could be seen playing around on the laptop at the defense’s desk.
Lawson did so for several minutes while he also tried to listen into the sidebar conference between the judges and counsel.
The court was back on the record at 9:53 a.m.
The following picture shown to the court was one where investigators pulled up part of Don McGuire’s shirt.
His chest was covered in blood.
The courtroom would then see pictures of Stacey Jackson.
Jackson had half of a shirt on her body but was missing her pants.
There were tears in Jackson’s shirt around the shoulders and tears near her heart.
The photographs showed dried up blood around Jackson’s nose and mouth.
“The nose seemed to be purging as well,” said Hanshaw in his testimony.
By this time, the courtroom was already filled with emotions.
Next, the prosecution showed a picture of Devin Holston.
Devin was tucked away in a corner behind a dresser.
He was facing down and on top of a pile of clothes.
Hanshaw testified that Devin was found by the dresser, his mother (Stacey Jackson) was found to Devin’s left, and Don McGuire was found “further up” in the room.
In his testimony, Hanshaw said that Devin was not visible to investigators until they removed both Don McGuire and Stacey Jackson’s bodies from the room.
Hanshaw said there was a hole on Devin’s back shoulder area and that it had “saturation.”
Prosecutors then showed a close-up picture of Devin’s face once investigators turned him around at the crime scene.
Devin’s face and arm were pale.
Hanshaw said this was due to the lividity of the body, which according to Hanshaw indicated this was the original spot where Devin was found.
Devin’s face had blood all over it.
Hanshaw testified there was purging of blood Devin’s nose; this was really evident from the graphic photographs shown in court Friday morning.
The firearm was shown in court but due to restrictions set by the court, 13 News could not obtain a photograph of the firearm.
The firearm was a shot gun that had a camouflage handle.
Next, the prosecution showed several pictures of Lawson when he was first arrested.
Lawson was wearing a pair of Wrangler jeans that Hanshaw said Lawson purchased while he was on the run.
Investigators would find the Faded Glory jeans Lawson was originally wearing, along with a receipt for the
Wrangler jeans, inside the Chevrolet S10 Lawson stole to get away.
Pictures of Lawson’s hands showed many scratches and cuts.
A picture of the Power Rangers book Lawson used to prop open the window to get into the house the day of the murders was also shown.
Investigators say they found the book on a different day after Lawson told them where it would be.
The book was found right by the very window Lawson used to get into the home in the first place.
A black backpack was also found inside the crime scene.
The contents of the backpack included a ski mask, a maglight, some knives, and Federal brand ammunition.
The same brand ammunition was found inside the trash can at the crime scene along with a used condom.
All of these items were entered into evidence.
By this time, it was 10:44 a.m. and Judge Ballard called for a recess.
Shortly after 11:15 a.m., court was back in session.
The prosecution would be done questioning BCI Special Agent Hanshaw at 11:32 a.m., at which point, cross-examination began.
The defense asked several questions surrounding how the evidence was handled, including whether or not gloves were used, and if those gloves were changed each time new evidence was handled.
Hanshaw explained that for the most part, they do change gloves but not for every single piece of evidence.
Hanshaw provided examples of when investigators would change gloves, like when there’s evidence related to DNA and/or latent prints.
The defense then asked if pooling blood could be identified based on several photographs.
After a few exchanges between the defense and Hanshaw, Prosecutor Brigham Anderson objected, but Judge Ballard said the objection was noted but that “the door had already been opened.”
The defense continued to ask about many of the exhibits introduced into evidence, double checking procedures and asking for clarification from Hanshaw.
The prosecution had a redirect at 12:03 p.m. at which point they asked Hanshaw about the pooling of blood in the photographs the defense asked about.
Hanshaw would reply that from those photographs, one could not tell there was pooling of blood because it was such a long ranged photograph.
Hanshaw explained one would need to get a closer angle and maybe better lighting to be able to show what one’s eyes would have seen had one been at the crime scene.
The defense had the opportunity to re-cross examine the witness.
The defense then asked Hanshaw when he graduated from the academy and went on to ask him about the report Hanshaw filed that was based on what happened at each crime scene.
After this brief exchange, Judge Ballard called for court to be in recess for lunch.
Prosecutor Brigham Anderson says the court would hear from the Montgomery County Coroner who performed the autopsies on the bodies as well as Detective Aaron Bollinger from the Lawrence County
Sheriff’s Office when court was back in session.
The court reconvened at 1:00 p.m.
Stay with 13 News for the latest on this trial on air and online.
UPDATE (2/22/19 1:20 PM):
Day 2 of Arron Lawson’s three-judge panel trial began with Judge Ballard warning everyone in the courtroom there would be a lot of emotional evidence.
That evidence included graphic pictures of the bloody bodies of Tammy McGuire, Don McGuire, Stacey Jackson, and 8-year-old Devin Holston.
Also introduced was the shotgun Lawson used to shoot the victims as well as the book he used to prop open a window to break into the house the day of the murders.
The court reconvened at 1:00 p.m.
Prosecutor Brigham Anderson says the court will hear from the Montgomery County Coroner who performed the autopsies on the bodies as well as Detective Aaron Bollinger from the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.
Stay with 13 News for continuing coverage.
UPDATE (2/21/19 7 PM):
Thursday afternoon started with the prosecuting attorney opening statement.
Aside from the sobbing coming from the public seating area, the courtroom was silent as Brigham Anderson described to the three judges the events that lead up to the day four family members were murdered. Stacy Holston, her 8-year-old Devin Holston, her mother Tammie McGuire, and her father, Don McGuire were killed in Holston’s home the night of October 11, 2017.
Anderson said Stacy Holston ended her intimate relationship with Lawson and as a result Lawson had “blind anger.” The night before the murders happened, Anderson said Lawson was at the Holston home where he went into a bedroom and propped a window open with a book to keep it ajar. Anderson said Lawson planned to come back to the home the next morning.
Anderson said Lawson waited outside the home until Stacy’s husband, Todd, left for work (which was usually between 4:30 a.m. and 5 a.m.) and her son, Devin, left for school (which was usually between 7:45 a.m. and 8 a.m.). Anderson said when Stacy came out of the bathroom Lawson shot her three times in the chest with a 20 gauge shotgun. Anderson said Lawson took her body to Devin’s room and placed her on the boy’s bed where he then raped her. Anderson said Holtson’s 2-year-old son was in another bedroom.
Anderson said just before 9:30 a.m., Lawson made a call to the local school district where Devin was a student and pretended to be Todd Holsten and requested the school send Devin home after school instead of him riding the bus to his paternal grandparents house. Anderson said while Lawson was waiting in the home, he took care of the Holston’s 2-year-old. Anderson said at approximately 3:50-4 p.m., Devin was off the bus and at home. Anderson said Lawson said Devin was “asking too many questions” and that’s when Lawson told Devin he got him a video game system and told him to go look for it in his room. Anderson said that’s when Lawson shot Devin once in the shoulder and once in the back.
Anderson said Lawson still didn’t leave.
Anderson said Stacy’s husband, Todd, had been at work all day trying to get a hold of Stacy. Anderson said the couple spoke often and it wasn’t like Stacy to not answer her phone. Anderson said when Todd couldn’t get a hold of Stacy, he called her mother, Tammie McGuire, at 6:42 p.m. to go check on her but the home was locked. Anderson said at 6:49 p.m. there was another phone call where Todd gave Tammie permission to break into their house. Anderson said Todd heard, “Oh my God,” and then a loud sound and the phone drop. Anderson said Tammie McGuire was shot twice. Anderson said Todd then called Stacy’s father, Don McGuire to go check on things. Anderson said while Don was walking to Stacy’s house, he called Tammie and sent her a sent her a social media message trying to make contact. Anderson said Lawson shot Don twice. Anderson said Lawson then moved the truck that Tammie drove to the back yard.
Andrerson said minutes after Don McGuire was killed Todd Holston made it home. Anderson said Lawson stabbed Holston 11 times in different places of his body. Anderson said Holston grabbed Lawson, took the knife away and while holding Lawson down, sees the 2-year-old. Anderson said Todd threw Lawson out of the house. After that, Anderson said that’s when Todd found Tammie’s body and then went to get help.
Anderson said Lawson then drove to Wal-Mart in South Point, Ohio, where he buys shirts, socks and jeans and changes his clothes. Anderson said Lawson then goes back into Wal-Mart and makes additional electronics purchases before going to Taco Bell around 10:30 p.m. to eat. Anderson said Lawson then when to a man’s home to purchase marijuana and spent 45 minutes there.
Anderson said when Lawson was driving northbound on State Route 141, law enforcement officers were able to identify the truck Lawson was in and Lawson as the driver. Anderson said law enforcement officers said Lawson wrecked the truck he was driving and ran away starting a two-day manhunt.
Anderson said Lawson’s murder of Stacy and Devin was on purpose and calculated and that Lawson killed Don and Tammie during an aggravated robbery. Anderson said Lawson used a firearm to commit each crime.
Kirk McVey, the public defender representing Lawson, then gave his opening statement.
McVey said Lawson, while admittedly on the run, walked out of the woods and waited to surrender to law enforcement. McVey said a citizen saw Lawson and told officers where they could find him.
McVey said Lawson was interrogated October 13 by two officers. McVey said Lawson immediately told the officers in great detail what happened. McVey said Lawson spoke in such truth he answered questions officers hadn’t even asked. McVey said when considering Lawson’s sentence, one must consider character. McVey said Lawson hadn’t held the State up by forcing a trial and claiming he wasn’t guilty.
McVey said Lawson spent countless hours with the Holsten’s two son’s, as well as the whole family. McVey said he was not saying Lawson has never had any problems and then made a reference to a time where Lawson chased an unnamed man with a butcher knife.
McVey said Lawson had a “dysfunctional upbringing.” McVey said poverty, a mother that hardly ever worked due to being functionally impaired, living paycheck to paycheck, Lawson having four siblings will four different fathers than his own, allegations of abuse and drug use by family and a number of other issues played a roll.
McVey said Lawson’s mother was considered unfit and he and his siblings where taken out of her custody. McVey said Lawson was then sent to live with his biological father. McVey said Lawson’s father was an alcoholic and when he was drunk he was mean to Lawson. McVey said Lawson’s stepbrother and half-brother also mistreated him and bullied him. McVey said there was a time when the brothers stuck the metal ends of pencils in Lawson’s ears. McVey went on to say they would slap and punch him and that Lawson had a list of injuries.
McVey then asked how important it is for a child to know the love of a father and a mother. McVey said Lawson came from generations of fluid familial boundaries. McVey said Lawson’s mother had children with five different men and started dating Lawson’s friends, too. McVey said Lawson had a reckless sense of abandonment.
McVey said Lawson was under psychiatric care in 2011 and 2012 while in his late teens. McVey said when Lawson dropped out of school and starting working he lost his coverage for psychiatric care. McVey said Lawson a paternal aunt in his life who was his second mother and his saving grace. McVey said that aunt died in a house fire and sometime later a neighbor made fun of his aunt dying in the fire and McVey said that’s when Lawson came out with a butcher knife.
McVey said Lawson reported being abused to Child Protective Services, but when they tried to investigate it was difficult because all the children had become so normalized to sexual behavior and drug use. McVey said when Lawson was 16 he went back to live with his mother. McVey said because Lawson dealt with a litany of abuse and issues that were never address the state should consider one of the life options.
The judge then ordered a brief recess and witness testimony began.
Anderson asked Todd Holston about his relationship with Lawson. Holston said is was a good relationship and that Lawson was over often and helped with their two children. Anderson asked Holston if he saw Lawson in the courtroom and Holston pointed to Lawson sitting with at the defense attorney’s table.
Holston explained to the judges how his work day typically went and how often he would talk to Stacy during the day. Holston said they were speaking more frequently because he recently wrecked his truck. Holston would drive from his home in Pedro to meet his boss in Portsmouth everyday to carpool to work in Maysville.
Holston testified when he arrived at his home he didn’t see any vehicles. Holston said when he went inside his home he was stabbed by Lawson in the head first. Holston said Lawson told him Stacy and Devin were okay and that Lawson shook “like he snapped out of something.”
Anderson played the 911 call Holston made and after that Anderson asked Holston if he was bleeding at the time of the 911 call and Holston said, “yes.” Holston said he was flown to a local hospital and he then stood up and showed judges his scars.
UPDATE (2/21/19 2:01 PM):
Arron Lawson, the man accused of murdering four people back in 2017, has pleaded guilty to a total of 13 charges, many of which include stipulations within the charges.
The charges include 4 counts of aggravated murder, which could land Lawson the death penalty if convicted.
The court accepted Lawson’s plea shortly before noon today.
Wednesday’s trial was set to begin at 8:30 a.m., but it would be 10:22 a.m. before prosecutors, the defense, and Arron Lawson would make their way into the courtroom.
Lawson was wearing a blue plaid shirt, glasses, and had a full beard.
His hair looked grown out.
At around 10:33 a.m., the judges would walk into the court room.
Judge Andy Ballard would be the leading speaking voice for the other two, which were appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Mr. McVay, one of Lawson’s lawyer, informed the court at 10:39 that Mr. Lawson planned on entering a plea of guilty to all charges against him.
Judge Ballard then asked McVay if he had met with Lawson on Wednesday.
McVay told the court he had met with Lawson around 8:10 a.m. Wednesday morning to talk about Lawson’s decision.
Judge Ballard then went on to ask Lawson several questions, including if Lawson was being told by someone to plea this way, was being forced to plea this way, or was being coerced to plea guilty.
Judge Ballard also asked Lawson if Lawson was under the influence of any drugs, including prescription drugs, and asked Lawson whether or not he completed high school.
Judge Ballard told Lawson this was not a question meant to demean him but rather to make sure Lawson understood the charges against him.
Lawson said he went to high school through 10th grade.
After another series of questions posed to Lawson, Judge Ballard went on to read the 13 charges against Lawson in their entirety, including stipulations within those charges.
Those charges are as follow:
- 1 count of aggravated murder for the death of Stacey Jackson
- 1 count of aggravated murder for the death of Devin Holston
- 1 count of aggravated murder for the death of Tammy McGuire
- 1 count of aggravated murder for the death of Donald McGuire
- 1 count of attempted murder in the first degree
- 1 count of felonious assault, a felony in the second degree
- 1 count of aggravated burglary, a felony in the first degree
- 1 count of rape, a felony in the first degree
- 1 count of abuse of a corpse, a felony in the fifth degree
- 1 count of kidnapping, a felony in the first degree
- 1 count of tampering with evidence, a felony in the third degree
- 1 count of theft of a motor vehicle, a felony in the fourth degree
- 1 count of failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer, a felony in the third degree.
Once Judge Ballard was done reading all of the charges and stipulations against Lawson, Lawson entered a plea of guilty at 11:52 a.m.
Judge Ballard then read each charge and asked Lawson how he plead. Lawson would say ‘guilty’ to all 13 charges against him and the stipulations of those charges.
Because of the length and descriptions of the charges, as well as the language in the plea Lawson signed, Judge Ballard asked Lawson if he could read and write.
“I’m pretty smart even though I didn’t finish school,” Lawson said back.
The court officially accepted Arron Lawson’s guilty plea at 11:59 a.m. Wednesday morning.
A recess was called until 12:45 p.m.
Opening statements were scheduled to be made when the court was back in session.
You can catch our live stream on our FaceBook page.
Stay with 13 News for the latest updates.
The trial for Arron Lawson, a man accused of murdering four people, will begin for the second time today in Ironton, Ohio.
Lawson’s murder trial had to be postponed a couple of weeks ago after he decided to waive his right to trial by jury. This came after a complicated process to select a jury from a pool of 500 candidates had already been completed.
Because Lawson decided to waive his right to trial by jury, he will now be pleading to a panel of three judges.
One of those judges is Judge Andy Ballard who was already overseeing the case, and the other two are appointed by the Supreme Court of Ohio.
Judge Ballard made it clear to Lawson that the only real difference between the three-judge panel and a jury trial was the presence of a jury, adding that Lawson was going from a pool of 12 people to a pool of three.
Ballard cautioned Lawson that evidence would still be presented to the court, even without a jury present.
Lawson is expected to plead guilty in front of this three-judge panel, but the state will still have to present evidence, just like they would have in a normal jury trial.