AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A jury recommended Friday that a man convicted of killing nine people in separate arson fires in his Akron neighborhood should be sentenced to life in prison instead of the death penalty.
Stanley Ford, 62, was found guilty Sept. 21 on 26 of the 29 counts against him, including aggravated murder and aggravated arson. A judge will make the final decision on his sentence, but a hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Summit County prosecutors said Ford killed a couple in 2016 and two adults and five children in 2017. They used surveillance video footage, security alarm records and the testimony of neighbors to show Ford was responsible.
Prosecutors said Ford set the fires because of disputes with his neighbors. Ford has maintained his innocence, and his attorney argued at trial that Ford could not be identified in the surveillance videos and added that other potential suspects were identified.
Ford’s initial trial began in March 2020. After a week of testimony and several delays, Summit County Judge Christine Croce declared a mistrial the following June at the request of Ford’s attorneys, who cited concerns about Ford’s ability to get a fair trial during the coronavirus pandemic.