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Cops & Courts

Phone evidence allowed in trial of Wadsworth teen accused of killing woman, 98

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    Gavon N. Ramsay, 17, of Wadsworth, plead not guilty to nine charges against him in the death of 98-year-old Wadsworth resident Margaret Douglas.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE FILE

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    Margaret Douglas

    MG

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WADSWORTH — A cell phone containing multiple pictures of a dead elderly female that police later identified as 98-year-old Margaret Douglas, and writings describing fantasies about killing people, serial killer biographies and writings about strangling people.

That is some of the evidence Gavon Ramsay’s attorneys wanted excluded in the aggravated murder case against the Wadsworth’s teenager, according to court documents.

Defense attorneys filed three separate motions to suppress Aug. 13 that included evidence found during a search by Wadsworth police of a cell phone owned by Ramsay’s mother and used by Ramsay, statements made by Ramsay while speaking to police and evidence found during a search of the Ramsay’s home.

Medina County Common Pleas Judge Joyce V. Kimbler overruled all three motions, meaning prosecutors are open to introduce the evidence during Ramsey’s trial, which is set to begin 9 a.m. Monday.

In the ruling filed Friday, Kimbler cited precedent as the reason to include the evidence. Hearings on the motions took place Sept. 28 and Oct 1. Prosecutors filed a response Oct. 9 and Ramsay’s attorneys filed Oct. 10 a supplemental brief again supporting the motions to suppress.

Medina County Prosecutor S. Forrest Thompson said Monday that he was unable to comment on the case.

“… At the present time, this case is still under a gag order…,” Thompson said.

Defense attorney Jocelyn Stefancin did not reply to a voicemail Monday.

Police found Douglas’ body April 9 in a closet in her home in the 300 block of Portage Street. It was concealed by various items and clothing. She died in the early hours of April 6, police have previously said.

Wadsworth police Lt. Dave Dorland previously said it is believed Douglas was strangled.

Ramsay was indicted May 22 by a county grand jury on four counts of aggravated murder, two counts of murder, one count of kidnapping, one count of aggravated burglary and one count of gross abuse of a corpse.

If convicted, Ramsay could face up to life in prison.

With the trial less than a week away, the documents offer a more detailed look into the case as the gag order has prevented attorneys from both sides from making any public comments.

According to court documents, the cell phone evidence was found during a search of his mother’s phone in relation to another case.

While investigating Ramsay’s involvement in an alleged carjacking, police were made aware that the alleged victim, a 50-year-old-male, possibly met the then 17-year-old through the dating app Grindr.

Ramsay’s mother requested police investigate the man for the possibility of a sexual assault and agreed to turn over the shared cell phone during an April 16 phone call with police, according to court documents.

Ramsay’s mother, in a phone call with police, reportedly said with regards to the cell phone search that, “It is what it is,” and “Whatever they find I pray to God there’s nothing too horrible in there.”

The documents said Ramsay’s mother signed a consent form that read in part, “(t)his search is to include all areas of the mobile device to include, but not limited to, incoming or outgoing telephone calls, received or sent messages such as texts, videos, emails, contact list information, drafts of messages and the internet history of the above device.”

Wadsworth police subsequently searched the phone and court documents said “images of a deceased elderly female with a gloved hand of another person appearing in many of them” confirmed to be the body of Douglas was recovered on the phone.

Court documents said police founds images and videos in the cell phone of Douglas alive and deceased.

A second motion detailed statements reportedly made by Ramsay during two interviews with police after his April 16 arrest in Fairview Park.

Defense attorneys wrote that “Ramsay contends that he invoked his right to remain silent several times during the interview and that the statements that he gave after Detective (Dawn) Schismenos continued to question him should be suppressed.”

In a response written by prosecutors, Ramsay confessed to committing the murder during the car ride to the Wadsworth police station from Fairview Park, and did not ask for a lawyer or his parents during the car ride.

According to the documents, Ramsay made three statements telling police that he should not be talking to them.

“… Detective Schismenos felt that Ramsay did not unequivocally invoke his right to remain silent so she continued asking him questions,” the documents said.

The third motion to suppress regarded a police search of Ramsay’s home.

A search warrant stated police were looking for “disposable gloves, red woman(s)’ wallet, Ohio driver’s license belonging to (Douglas), a Discover credit card and a Chase Bank checkbook bearing (Douglas’) name.”

The warrant also included any other property that could be identified as having belonged to Douglas, criminal tools and contraband.

Court documents said items recovered by police during the search on Ramsay’s bedroom as pointed out by his parents include a red wallet containing multiple cards, both used white plastic gloves and new white plastic gloves,two white pills, a gray hooded sweatshirt, a red drawstring bag bottle of Hollister cologne and a purple notebook.

The notebook was found on a shelf near Ramsay’s bed and contained “… writings by Ramsay describing fantasies about killing people, serial killer biographies and writings about strangling people,” according to the court documents.

Court documents said the sweatshirt was taken as a criminal tool as it may have been worn during the crime and there was a stain on it that resembled blood.

The red drawstring bag was seized as a criminal took because court documents said Ramsay stated that he had a bag with him during the time he went into Douglas’ home.

In the state’s argument to let the cell phone and search of the home in as evidence because it was inevitable that police would have obtained both.

According to court documents, in 2016 Ramsay was convicted in juvenile court on an unrelated, older charge and as a result his DNA was collected and kept Ohio’s DNA databank.

When Douglas was found and police were searching her home, court documents said police found a white plastic glove in a flower bed by the back door of her home.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation tested the glove and confirmed DNA from Douglas as well as another person’s DNA on both the inside and outside of the glove.

The DNA matched to Ramsey from the sample taken from him in 2016, according to court documents.

“The state of Ohio argues that if the only evidence obtained by the police was the glove and then it was matched in the (Combined DNA Index System), the police would then have obtained a warrant to search the home and cell phone of the matched person for evidence related to the murder.”

Ramsay remains at the Medina County Juvenile Detention Center, where he is being held on a $1 million bond.

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at (330) 721-4050 or nhavenner@medina-gazette.com.


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