It’s been nearly four years since firefighters found the charred body of a 67-year-old Realtor who specialized in real estate owned (REO) properties who’d been strangled to death in a vacant home in Youngstown, Ohio.

The two men charged with the Sept. 20, 2010, murder of Vivian D. Martin have yet to go to trial, raising questions about whether police made procedural errors that could complicate the death penalty case. The delays also suggest that defense attorneys may claim that the suspects have psychological problems stemming from military service.

Robert Brooks, who was 25 when he was arrested, and Grant Cooper, 21 at the time, were indicted in October 2010. Since then, dozens of pretrail hearings have been scheduled, The Vindicator newspaper reported in September, the three-year anniversary of the Martin’s death.

In October 2012, the judge in the case ruled that a statement Brooks made to Brookfield Township police after they arrested him in an unrelated case was inadmissible because Brroks had not been informed of his right to remain silent, The Vindicator reported.

Statements Brooks made to other police departments will be allowed as evidence, and the lead investigator in the case said that all death penalty cases are lengthy, particularly when there are two defendants facing death in separate trials.

More recently, prosecutors told wfmj.com reporter Janet Rogers that the latest delays are due in part to the difficulty defense attorneys have had in obtaining the accused men’s medical records from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Prosecutors told WFMJ they want to make sure any conviction and penalty will withstand on appeal. Attorneys for the accused might use the missing medical records as the basis of an appeal if the trial were to move forward now, they said. Cooper is scheduled to appear at a pretrial hearing on June 13, and Brooks will appear in court June 17. Source: wfmj.com.

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