COSHOCTON -- Six of the seven suspects charged in connection to the death of a Coshocton man all pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Wednesday, including one man charged with murder.
Jordan L. Green, 31, of Newcomerstown, is charged with aggravated murder, an unclassified felony; abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony; and five counts of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony. Green faces life in prison if convicted.
Green possessed a firearm during the killing of 26-year-old Michael L. Hamm, according to his indictment. It's alleged he used a gun to kill Hamm.
The tampering of evidence charges allege Green attempted to cleanse the crime scene with flammable liquid and fire. He's also accused of his role in the disposal of a blue 2001 Ford Ranger pickup truck, a handgun, chainsaws, and clothing and boots.
Green is currently housed at the Coshocton County Justice Center on a $1 million bond.
Green and his accused accomplices appeared in Common Pleas Judge Robert Batchelor's courtroom.
Michael T. Mencer, 25, of West Lafayette, is charged with obstructing justice, a third-degree felony, for providing Det. Seth Andrews with false information during the investigation of Hamm's disappearance and murder. He's also charged tampering with evidence relating to chainsaws.
Mencer did not attend the arraignment Wednesday to enter a plea because he has not been served a copy of his indictment. He is currently out of jail after paying his $15,000 bond through a bail bondsperson.
The other suspects have similar charges, and are currently in jail with various bond amounts.
Anthony L. Estvanko, 30, and Paul M. Wilcox III, 29, both of Coshocton, are each charged with tampering with evidence relating to a blue 2001 Ford Ranger pickup truck.
Richard L. Westhafer, 49, of West Lafayette, is charged with two counts of tampering with evidence relating to chainsaws, clothing and footwear.
Skiylar E. Johnson, 20, of Port Washington, is charged with tampering with evidence relating to chainsaws.
Aerial J. Westhafer, 24, of West Lafayette, is charged with tampering with evidence relating to clothing and footwear.
Green, Estvanko, Wilcox, A. Westhafer, R. Westhafer and Johnson are currently housed in the Coshocton County Justice Center.
Tampering with evidence carries a maximum penalty of 36 months.
All defendants are being represented by County Public Defender Jeffrey Mullen. Assistant Prosecutor Ben Hall is representing the state of Ohio.
Events in investigation
On May 22, human remains were located and recovered in the Wills Creek area of Linton Township. The following day, Dr. Robert Gwinn with the Coshocton County Coroner's Office ruled that the remains were those of Hamm.
Though Hamm's remains were discovered, and not an actual body, and chainsaws were allegedly used during the commission of the crimes, Coshocton County Prosecutor Jason Given did not comment if anything was used on Hamm's body after he was killed.
According to Sheriff Tim Rogers, family and friends of Hamm reported him missing on May 16. That started an in-depth investigation into his whereabouts.
On May 19, a blue 2001 Ford Ranger belonging to Hamm was located in Linton Township in southern Coshocton County. On May 21 and into the early morning hours of May 22, Green, Estvanko and Wilcox were taken into custody.
At a preliminary hearing May 24 in Coshocton County Municipal Court, Coshocton County Prosecutor Jason Given said that Estvanko and
Wilcox had been asked by Green to destroy Hamm's vehicle. He said Green gave Estvanko and Wilcox gave keys to Hamm's vehicle to drive it out to a remote part of Linton Township, hiding it in dense brush.
Given said that both Estvanko and Wilcox have confessed to their part in the crime. He did not provide a motive for the crimes.
The indictments were handed down by a Coshocton County grand jury and filed with the Clerk of Courts office June 23.