DNA expert approved for murder trial

WARREN – Even though defendant Richard Clark refused to formally ask for postponement of his murder trial, a judge on Thursday officially rescheduled the start from June 24 to Sept. 9.

The move came after Clark’s attorney, Matt Pentz, was unable to persuade his client to sign off on a time waiver, which also would have pushed the case back to a later date.

Pentz told Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald Rice he needed more time to prepare an adequate defense for the 39-year-old man accused of stabbing a 49-year-old acquaintance to death in March. Rice also approved a request by Pentz to hire a DNA expert to review blood evidence in the case.

Dr. Theodore Kesis of Columbus will work with Pentz and defense attorney David Rouzzo on defense strategy after examining evidence that prosecutors have turned over to the defense.

Pentz said some of it involves a mixture of the defendant’s and the victim’s blood that has been analyzed in the DNA tests done by state forensic experts. Rice set another pre-trial for July 18.

Clark remains behind bars in lieu of $1 million bond and faces charges of robbery and heroin possession besides the murder.

He is accused of stabbing Dwayne Hickman close to a dozen times. Warren police discovered Hickman’s body at his home March 25 after a family member asked them to check on his welfare.

The Trumbull County Coroner’s Office confirmed Hickman died around March 19 of multiple stab wounds.

Police initially arrested Clark on March 26 when they spotted Hickman’s vehicle, which Clark is accused of stealing, at a Maryland Street residence. However, because Clark was unconscious when police found him, he was taken to Trumbull Memorial Hospital, where he remained under police watch.

Police took Clark into custody at the hospital on a felony drug possession warrant April 2. The next day, police charged him with Hickman’s murder. He has been held at the Trumbull County Jail without bond since.

Police said Hickman and Clark had a history, and that Clark had stayed at Hickman’s home periodically. Court records list 124 Morningside Drive, Niles, as an address for Clark. However, recent police reports showed his residence as 1227 N. Park Ave., Warren.

Since 1993, Clark has been charged with various crimes, including drug-related offenses, endangering children, theft, receiving stolen property, attempted burglary, stealing a car, unauthorized use of a car, resisting arrest and carrying a concealed weapon.