Accused Ashland serial killer makes rare court appearance

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ASHLAND-- The man accused of killing at least four women in Ashland and Richland counties appeared in a courtroom Monday.

Shawn Grate, 41, is charged with more than 20 counts, including murder, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse.

This is one of the few times Grate, who typically appears in court via Skype, appeared in court in person.

Ashland County Deputies escorted Grate into the courthouse Monday morning.

A hearing was held to go over excuses from jurors who are asking not to serve during Grate’s upcoming trial.

One woman asked to be excused because of her religious beliefs, saying she did not feel she should judge others. The woman also indicated she was moving out of the county. Other jurors indicated they had medical reasons and would not be able serve.

The suspected serial killer was arrested on Sept. 13 , 2016 after a woman called police from a house on Covert Court in Ashland and said she was being held captive. Officers rescued the woman and found two more bodies.

Autopsy results indicate those two women were strangled. They were found with clothing around their necks.

Investigators said Grate admitted killing at least two additional women, whose bodies were found near Mansfield in June and Marion in 2007.

His trial is scheduled to begin in April.

**Continuing coverage here**