Judge in Cutts case again denies defense’s requests

Shane Hoover

Lawyers for Bobby L. Cutts Jr. said they wanted to set the record straight Friday on reports that Cutts has admitted to killing Jessie M. Davis and her unborn daughter.

“Obviously, our concern is that when it gets reported that our client makes confessions when it’s not accurate, we have a big problem with that, and that was the reason for asking for the emergency hearing,” defense attorney Carolyn Ranke said after a hearing at the Stark County Jail.

While the defense was able to address media reports, Stark County Common Pleas Judge Charles E. Brown Jr. again denied requests to drop the death-penalty elements of the case and to make prosecutors turn over more information.

Cutts, a 30-year-old former Canton police officer, is charged with three counts of aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, gross abuse of a corpse and endangering children. He and Davis had a son together.

Cutts denies guilt. His trial is set to start in late January. If convicted of aggravated murder, Cutts faces a possible death sentence.

The defense repeated its argument from Tuesday’s hearing that the evidence, as provided by county prosecutors, doesn’t support the death penalty.

“Right now we don’t even have a cause of death,” defense attorney Fernando Mack told the judge.

Brown said Cutts’ attorneys will be able to question at trial what the evidence does or doesn’t prove, and that he expects the lawyers to disagree.

The defense also says potential jurors may have been tainted by Stark County prosecutors saying that Cutts admitted to co-defendant Myisha L. Ferrell that he killed Davis and her unborn daughter in June, and led police to Davis’ badly decomposed body.

Ferrell, who pleaded guilty in November to obstructing justice and complicity to gross abuse of a corpse, has agreed to testify at Cutts’ trial.

During the hearing, Mack challenged prosecutors to point to the page in Ferrell’s statement, called a “proffer,” that contains Cutts’ alleged admission.

“Bobby Cutts has never admitted to killing Jessie Davis, not in that proffer,” Mack said.

The defense declined to comment on the claim that Cutts led police to Davis’ body in a Summit County park, saying the issue is reserved for trial.

Stark County Prosecutor John D. Ferrero said his office isn’t trying to influence public opinion by releasing details on the case, and all information concerning Ferrell’s statement has been provided to the defense.

“We want to make sure a fair trial is given to Mr. Cutts and that this case is heard in Stark County,” Ferrero said.

Reach Canton Repository writer Shane Hoover at (330) 580-8338 or shane.hoover@cantonrep.com.