Suicide attempt may be used as evidence of guilt at double murder trial

Prosecutors say a Middletown man’s suicide attempt is evidence of guilt in the murder of two women this past summer.

James Geran, 45, is facing two murder charges for allegedly killing two women before turning the gun on himself.

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Geran killed his “business associate in criminal activity” and dumped her body before killing his girlfriend’s mother during a standoff with deputies on June 13 in Trenton, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s office.

Today, Geran appeared before Butler County Common Pleas Judge Keith Spaeth for his final scheduled hearing before his Dec. 10 trial. Unlike previous court appearances, he was not wearing a lime green jail jumpsuit used to identify inmates on suicide watch, and he did not have difficulty talking to other inmates and his attorney, Lawrence Hawkins III.

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Prosecutors have filed a motion to have Geran’s suicide attempt used as evidence of guilt at his trial.

After the hours-long standoff, “(Geran’s) girlfriend exited the apartment. Very quickly thereafter two gunshots rang out from outside the apartment. Police made entry to find Sharon McCleary dead from a gunshot wound to the head and the defendant injured from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head,” Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Dan Phillips wrote in the motion.

“Ohio courts have been clear, a defendant’s suicide attempt in close proximity to the crime committed is admissible as evidence of guilt. Further that warrants a consciousness of guilt jury instruction. Therefore, the state of Ohio requests that evidence of defendant’s suicide attempt be admitted and consciousness of guilt instruction be given,” Phillips wrote.

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Hawkins had no comment about the motion today, but said he would address it in the future.

But there will not be any motions to suppress statements made by Geran to police, because attorneys agree he made none.

“He asked for a lawyer,” Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Brad Burress said. Hawkins agreed.

Hawkins said he had had brief discussions about resolution to the case with prosecutors, but nothing “substantive.”

Geran is being held on a $4 million bond. In addition to two murder charges, Geran was also indicted for felonious assault, improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation and two counts of having weapons under disability.

Geran is charged with aggravated murder for the death of McCleary during the standoff, and the murder charge is for the death of Megan Motter the day before.

Geran, a convicted felon, is accused of shooting Motter in the head, killing her and dumping her body off Woodsdale Road in Madison Twp.

The investigation of Motter’s death led deputies to the Trenton apartment.

When deputies knocked on the door of the Sal Boulevard apartment, Geran shot at them, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

Over the course of about two hours, Geran continued to fire between five and eight times at the deputies outside. Negotiators were able to talk him into releasing the sisters.

However, when he let the second sister out, he immediately closed the door and deputies heard gunfire.

Geran then crawled out, having shot himself in the chin with a .380 caliber gun, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said in June.

Inside the apartment, deputies found McCleary dead.

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