Opening statements scheduled in case of man accused in Youngstow - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Opening statements scheduled in case of man accused in Youngstown beating death

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Attorneys are expected to begin arguing the case of a man who stands accused of killing a disabled woman and brutally assaulting her mother, before lighting her house on fire in 2015. 

Opening statements were expected to begin early Monday morning in the case of 48-year-old Lance Hundley. Efforts to seat a jury have been on-going for several weeks. 

Hundley is charged with aggravated murder with a death penalty specification, attempted murder, felonious assault, and aggravated arson in the 2015 beating death of 41-year-old Erika Huff. 

Prosecutors say Hundley allegedly attacked Huff at her home on Cleveland Street, beat her to death, and then set the home on fire to cover up the crime.

Officials also allege that Hundley encountered Huff's mother, Denise Johnson, outside the home and attacked her with a claw hammer.

Officers responding to calls for help removed an air conditioner from the back of the home and rescued Johnson.

After that rescue, they found Huff's body. Huff was confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk because she suffered from MS.

Police originally said Hundley was living in the home and was inside when police arrived. Hundley was arrested and was also taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center for injuries.  

Erika had a six-year-old daughter who was not in the home at the time of the fire.

Hundley has attempted to represent himself several times, only to later go back and ask a judge top reinstate attorneys. 

However, in November, the lead prosecutor on the case said she found case law and presented it to the court that showed Hundley could no longer play the "back and forth game" of wanting to defend himself and then wanting a defense team to work on his death penalty case. 

Huff's family filed a civil lawsuit last September against the ambulance company and the EMTs that responded to her home on the day of the beating. 

The lawsuit seeks $150 million dollars in damages and alleges wrongful death of Erika Huff, personal injuries suffered by Denise Johnson, negligent hiring/training/supervision of defendant AMR, and loss of consortium of Lonnie Johnson.

The EMTs and ambulance company have asked for the case to be put on hold until after the criminal trial against Hundley. 

Judge Maureen Sweeney, who is presiding over the criminal proceedings, has asked to be recused from the civil complaint. 

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