Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Accused child killer pleads not guilty

Court packed for Chapman arraignment

By Tom O'Neill toneill@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WARSAW, Ky. - This small Ohio River community braced itself again Monday for the emotion, the memories and the media. Murder defendant Marco Allen Chapman was back in court.

        The routine, 10-minute arraignment of Mr. Chapman, 31, provided few new details into the Aug. 23 attack that left two children dead and their mother and a sibling seriously wounded.

        But it nonetheless drew a packed audience to Judge Joseph Bamberger's courtroom at the Gallatin County Courthouse.

        Through his attorneys, Mr. Chapman, 31, of Union, pleaded not guilty Monday to two counts each of murder and attempted murder, and one count each of rape, robbery, burglary and being a persistent felony offender.

        The last charge stems from his prior conviction for bank robbery in Texas, for which he was sentenced to 57 months in prison. His previous arrests include charges of felonious assault, escape, and breaking and entering.

        The deaths of Chelbi Sharon, 7, and her brother, Cody Sharon, 6, devastated this town 45 miles southwest of Cincinnati.

        Their mother, Carolyn Marksberry, who survived 15 stab wounds and crawled to a neighbor's home for help, is the city clerk.

        Ms. Marksberry lives next door to Mr. Chapman's former girlfriend, and neighbors say she was counseling the woman to leave an abusive relationship.

        Neither Ms. Marksberry nor her daughter, Courtney Sharon, 10, attended the arraignment.

        Defense attorney James Gibson, a death-penalty specialist in the public defender's office in Frankfort, said the defense likely would submit a change-of-venue request because of pretrial publicity.

        “A large portion of the commonwealth has been inundated with this case,” he said.

        A pretrial hearing is set for Oct. 21, but is contingent on agreements on evidence.

        Defense attorneys also want police forensics tests to preserve enough evidence for independent testing.


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