Galion couple scheduled to go to trial in July on murder-related charges

By Kimberly Gasuras -

Frederick Saunders Jr.

Frederick Saunders Jr.

Marla Saunders

Jury trials have been scheduled for a Galion couple accused in the death of Frederick Saunders, Sr.

Saunders’ son, Frederick “Lee” Saunders and his wife, Marla K. Saunders, will be heading to jury trials in July. Frederick Jr.’s trial is scheduled to begin on July 11 and last until July 15. Marla’s trial is scheduled from July 25 through July 29.

The couple made an appearance in Crawford County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday to debate whether or not a conflict of interest exists is they are both represented by Bucyrus attorney Adam Stone. Both Frederick Jr., and Marla agreed that they can be adequately represented by Stone and signed disclosures of mutual consent to joint representation.

Judge Sean Leuthold denied a motion to consolidate the two cases so each will be tried separately.

Frederick Jr., has been charged with aggravated murder and Marla is facing one count of complicity to commit murder. Both have also been charged with kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony.

The pair could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted on the murder-related charges.

Stone will be filing several motions on behalf of the couple including a motion to suppress evidence in the case and another to request a hearing on the coroner’s ability to testify in the upcoming trials.

Marla and Frederick Jr., are accused of purposefully causing the death of Frederick Saunders, Sr., on Sept. 30.

According to authorities, Saunders Sr. was taken by family members to the emergency room of the Galion Community Hospital on the night of the incident with multiple injuries that are consistent with a beating and was pronounced dead shortly after midnight.

Preliminary results from the Lucas County Coroner’s Office indicated that Saunders Sr. died as a result of strangulation and blunt force trauma to the skull.

Frederick has been held on a $5 million bond at the Crawford County Justice Center since his arrest in October while Marla was released on home monitoring until giving birth to twins. She is now being held in jail under a $2.5 million bond.

Marla Saunders’ twin sister, Carla Willoughby, was arrested in connection with the incident a few weeks after the couple was arrested. She pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with prosecutors on Dec. 21 to lesser charges and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 16.

Frederick Saunders Jr. Saunders Jr.

Marla Saunders Saunders

By Kimberly Gasuras

Reach Gasuras on Twitter: @kimberlygasuras

Reach Gasuras on Twitter: @kimberlygasuras