The Shawn Grate murder trial continued Thursday and an alleged victim, whose face was not shown, could be heard telling a jury how she came to meet Grate in 2016, became friends with him, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and escaped to call the police as he slept.
Grate is accused of kidnapping, raping, and murdering multiple women in Ashland County, Ohio. He also admitted to doing so, but is not pleading guilty.
As Law&Crime previously reported, Judge Ron Forsthoefel announced that the trial will be split into parts.
First, the jury will determine whether Grate is guilty of the offenses and with the required sexual motivation for the crimes. If he is found guilty, the jury will then hear a trial to determine whether the sexually violent predator specifications apply. After that, if Grate is found guilty, there could be a break for a few weeks before the sentencing phase of the trial begins, where the jury would determine whether the death penalty should apply.
The victim said that she knew Shawn Grate for about a month and a half.
She said they first met at the Kroc Center in Ashland, Ohio, where they had lunch together, and doesn’t remember what they spoke about. After that, they would see each other “a couple of times a week.”
She would run into him at lunch, go on walks with him and enjoy the weather. She described him as an older brother, “kind of goofy, but he struck me as kind.”
They talked about the Bible, life, things about himself, and played tennis.
When the subject of romantic involvement came up, it took the woman a few moments to begin her answer as to Grate’s intentions.
“He let me know that he would be interested in more, but I told him I wasn’t interested beyond [being] friends,” she said.
“I think he even kind of laughed, too,” she said, saying it was as if he realized he was “reaching.”
She said that she never had him over to her house because she doesn’t have men over and it’s “just not a good idea,” but said she did go to Grate’s house. She noticed it was “buggy and dirty.”
She found that “atypical” of Grate because he normally struck her as “very clean.”
On another occasion, September 11, 2016, the woman said, she recalled showing Grate Bible passages and they were reading it together at his house.
She said he started “pulling the Bible from [her] hands” and that she looked up and wondered what he was doing.
“That’s when he said,” and she sobbed and couldn’t complete the sentence.
After collecting herself, she said “That’s when he said, you’re not going anywhere.”
“We started fighting,” she said. “I tried to push him away and get up […] trying to kick, punch. But everything I did, he just did it so much harder.”
She said he struck her in the head, face “several times, as long as [she] kept fighting.”
She said she continued to fight until he started to choke her with both hands around her neck. “I stopped because I knew I couldn’t get out of it.”
“He asked me if ‘I had enough,'” she said. “He started pulling off my clothes.”
She said she didn’t try to resist because he already showed her he was a lot stronger. She didn’t lose consciousness but she was bleeding from her head.
She said she was sexually assaulted multiple times that night.
“Where did he put his penis?” she was asked.
“I don’t know,” she sobbed.
She said there was no prior indication that Grate was capable of this and always seemed like he “was a nice guy” and nothing out of the ordinary from typical advances men make.
She said she was both tied to the bed and not tied to the bed but bound in weird positions.
“He told me ‘Don’t move or you’ll strangle yourself,'” she said.
She said she was assaulted vaginally and anally multiple times, wasn’t allowed to leave, that Grate put makeup on her and shaved her public hair into the shape of a heart.
In the early morning of Sept. 13, the victim was able to use her attacker’s cellphone as he slept to call 911.
“I’ve been abducted,” she said.
The victim testified that Grate didn’t appear to sleep very much at all the first night and was “very alert.” She said he would react to the slightest movement she would make in the night and sit up.
She said the next night she was able to sit up and tried to creep down the bed, but laid back down to rethink and pray about the situation. She said she reached over Grate toward a nightstand for a cellphone that was going off every five minutes, but ended up reaching for a Taser instead.
She got out of the bed and looked for the cellphone and found it, Taser still in hand. The Taser accidentally went off and the crackling sound woke Grate from his slumber. She said that he sat up and looked groggy, but laid back down and went back to sleep.
She picked up the cellphone and called 911.
You can hear that phone call below.
Grate was arrested and police searched the home.
It was then that they found the bodies of 29-year-old Elizabeth Griffith and 43-year-old Stacey Stanley.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]