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Cops and Courts

Lorain murder trial starts Monday

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    Elliot Kirkland at preliminary hearing for his alleged role in the shooting death of Jimmie Holland Jr. Sept. 6, 2016, at Lorain Municipal Court.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

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ELYRIA — The murder trial of a Lorain man who could face the death penalty is set to begin Monday.

Elliot Kirkland, 29, was indicted on capital murder charges in connection with the 2016 slaying of Jimmie Holland Jr. in Holland’s Lexington Avenue apartment in Lorain. His trial before Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi is scheduled to begin Monday with jury selection.

Three other people police have said were involved in the death of Holland have pleaded guilty to indictments in connection with the incident and have agreed to testify against Kirkland.

Lorain police have said Holland’s death was the result of a home invasion.

Police were called to Holland’s apartment Aug. 29, 2016, by Jasmine Schafer, 29, who told officers she had gone to the apartment to braid Holland’s hair. She said when she arrived, she grabbed two cans of root beer out of the fridge before she found Holland’s body.

She told police she tried to give Holland CPR before she ran outside and called 911.

Police have said Schafer was initially cooperative, but said their investigation revealed she was lying about key parts of her story and that she was involved in stealing from Holland’s ransacked apartment.

Police recovered several missing items, including electronics and two cans of A&W root beer, from the borrowed Jeep Liberty that Schafer and a second woman, Latrice Thomas, were driving that night.

When officers confronted Schafer, she blamed Kirkland and Mark Sanchez for the robbery. A witness reported seeing Kirkland, who told police he had been with his girlfriend the entire night, enter the apartment armed with a handgun.

Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will has said because the robbery was planned, it elevated the killing to the level where prosecutors could seek the death penalty.

In October, Schafer pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, burglary and obstructing justice. As part of her plea agreement, which included testifying against Kirkland, she would receive an aggregate sentence of 11 years in prison, according to court documents.

In September, Sanchez, 26, and Thomas, 37, both of Lorain, pleaded guilty to charges in connection to the case.

Sanchez pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, felonious assault, burglary and obstructing justice. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss Sanchez’s charges of aggravated murder and murder and recommend an aggregate sentence of 14 years if he cooperates with prosecutors.

Thomas pleaded guilty to obstructing justice with the promise the state would recommend a community control sentence rather than prison if she cooperates.

Sentencing dates for Schafer, Sanchez and Thomas have not been set and most likely won’t be until after Kirkland’s trial.

Contact Scott Mahoney at (440) 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.


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