Special grand jury returns 21-count indictment against shooting suspect

(Posted June 23, 2021)

On June 22, a special grand jury convened at the Madison County Court of Common Pleas to hear testimony and evidence regarding a May 24 shooting in West Jefferson that resulted in the death of four people.

The West Jefferson Police Department investigated the incident with assistance from the Madison County and Franklin County sheriff’s offices, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, and the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office.

The grand jury returned a 21-count indictment with 69 individual specifications against the defendant, John Paul Steckel. Steckel is incarcerated in Tri-County Regional Jail on a $2.5 million bond. An arraignment is scheduled for June 28 in the Madison County Court of Common Pleas.

The indictment includes the charges of aggravated murder and murder for each of the following victims: Andrew Swindall, Shawn Wright, Jamie Lavender, and Leon Daniels.

The charges include aggravated robbery, weapons under disability, tampering with evidence, and the unlawful use of a weapon by a violent career criminal, as well as firearm specifications, repeat violent offender specifications, and violent career criminal specifications.

In addition to the aforementioned allegations, the aggravated murder charges specify multiple aggravating circumstances that would allow for the imposition of the death penalty, if the defendant is convicted.

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