Plymouth Twp. man faces charges in death of wife
An Ashtabula County murder suspect is on the fast track to trial, following his accelerated indictment Thursday on three murder charges.
Less than a week after the beating death of Carolyn Clark, 43, of Ashtabula, an Ashtabula County grand jury indicted her husband, Ralph E. Clark Sr., 43, of Plymouth Township, in connection with the May 7 killing.
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County Prosecutor Thomas Sartini confirmed Friday that Clark’s case went directly to the grand jury from Ashtabula Municipal Court, without holding a preliminary hearing.
Sartini said Clark, of 1031 E. Morgan Road, faces counts of:
Aggravated murder, which means there was prior calculation and design.
Murder, which is defined as purposely causing the death of another person.
Felony murder, causing the death of another person while in the process of committing a felony, in this case, felonious assault.
Sartini said the last charge is used when someone may have only intended to assault the victim, and he or she died as a result of the assault.
Carolyn Clark was found dead in her upstairs apartment at 4227 Park Ave., Ashtabula, about 2:30 a.m. May 7. Five of her 13 children were in the apartment at the time of her death.
Ralph Clark was arrested at his Plymouth Township home about 6 that morning, according to law enforcement reports.
Carolyn Clark had just been granted temporary custody of the couple’s eight minor children May 4.
Sartini said Clark will not face the death penalty if he is convicted.
The charges filed against Clark, however, are subject to a new state sentencing law that provides for the possibility of a life-without-parole sentence, Sartini said.
This is the first time the new sentencing guidelines will be used in Ashtabula County, he said.
Ashtabula City Solicitor Thomas Simon said the decision to move the case out of the lower court was based on timing.
“When you direct-indict (bypassing lower court hearings), it speeds the process up,” Simon said.
“They were holding a grand jury anyway on Thursday, and the case was ready to go.”
Simon praised everyone involved in investigating the case, and preparing it for presentation to a grand jury so quickly.
“I think they spent a lot of time on it,” he said.
Neither Sartini nor Simon could say whether other suspects may be charged in connection with the death.
“There’s an ongoing investigation through the date of trial,” Simon said. “If any credible evidence is uncovered (pointing to anyone else), charges will be filed.”