A high profile murder case is coming back to Muskingum County for a new sentencing hearing, but will be handled by a different judge.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on Thursday that Emile Weaver should be entitled to a sentencing hearing due to bias or prejudice.
Weaver was convicted of aggravated murder, abuse of a corpse and two counts of tampering with evidence in 2016. The body of Weaver’s daughter, Addison Grace Weaver, was found in a trash bag on the campus of Muskingum University. The coroner ruled the child died of asphyxiation.
Judge Mark Fleegle sentenced Weaver to life in prison with no parole. At sentencing the judge said he was unsure Weaver felt any remorse.
In an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, Weaver’s defense argued that there was judicial bias during Weaver’s last hearing in 2019 when Judge Fleegle ruled that Weaver’s mitigation “expert,” Diana Barnes, was unbelievable and biased before denying Weaver post-conviction relief.
In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said Fleegle demonstrated an arbitrary and unreasonable attitude toward the evidence of neonaticide and pregnancy-negation syndrome.
Muskingum County Prosecutor Ron Welch released this statement, “The State is extremely disappointed with the decision of the Supreme Court; however, we are confident the next court to sentence this remorseless murderer will reach the same conclusion as the first sentencing court, and that is that Emile Weaver’s crimes were the result of selfish and calculated acts not the result of something beyond her control.”