CLEVELAND (WJW) — Eleven years after an execution-style triple-murder at a Cleveland auto shop, the man accused of the crime was found not guilty on all counts.
Jesse Melton, 39, of East Cleveland, was charged with killing Lori Sarli, 48, Brian Yuravak, 50, and Babette Hockenberry, 53, inside Imperial Auto on St. Clair Avenue in 2012. All three victims were shot in the head.
This was a bench trial, which means Judge Jeffery Saffold made the final decision.
He admitted the evidence in this trial didn’t change much from a previous trial, where Melton was found not guilty on all counts.
“It was the same telephone evidence that was presented in the first trial. That did not have enough evidence to convince Judge Ambrose that he even had a gun,” Judge Saffold said.
Basically, the judge’s verdict was reached due to a lack of evidence to prove Melton was in fact the shooter.
The prosecution had evidence putting Melton at the Auto Shop that night, but not enough to prove he was there when shots were fired.
“Quite simply not enough evidence to change what has already been tried in this case. Unfortunately or fortunately, it appears there will always be a reasonable doubt in this case,” Judge Saffold said.
It means Jesse Melton is a free man. It also means the search for whoever murdered the three victims continues.