LISBON — Gary E. Joiner pleaded guilty Monday to murder in the shooting death of Ryan Virden just a week before Joiner was scheduled for a jury trial in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.
Deputy Chief County District Attorney Ryan Weikart said he plans to seek a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 21 years at the sentencing hearing scheduled for May 23.
Joiner, 43, Homeworth Road, Homeworth, appeared before Judge Scott Washam early on Monday for a final status conference ahead of next week’s trial. After hearing Weikart state that the current plea offer was his last, Joiner spoke with his defense attorneys Colleen Hall-Dailey and Charley Kidder and decided to accept the plea deal.
Joiner pleaded guilty to murder, an unclassified felony; an accompanying firearm specification; and having weapons while disabled, a third-degree felony. He faces at least a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 18 years, which his defense lawyers are expected to defend on his behalf.
Virden, 32, formerly of Wooddale Drive, Lisbon, died of a gunshot wound to the chest in a bedroom of Nicole M. Kenst’s home on Homeworth Road, Homeworth, in March 2021. He had also been shot in the tibia. At the time of the shooting, investigators say Joiner admitted to both the 911 dispatcher and a person working at the sheriff’s reservations office that he had just killed someone.
Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office investigators reportedly found a .22-long shotgun leaning against a tree outside and four shell casings of the same type of gun located in the home. Court documents at the time of the shooting said Joiner may have forced his way into the house screaming, then fired at least two shots at Virden.
Joiner, who was arrested by deputies on the day of the shooting, was initially charged with two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated burglary, murder, possession of weapons while incapacitated and forgery of evidence. Weikart said the prosecutor’s office, as part of the plea agreement, will no longer pursue and seek dismissal of the two counts of aggravated murder, the two counts of aggravated burglary and the tampering charge. proofs.
Weikart also said that once Joiner is convicted, the prosecutor’s office intends to no longer pursue a charge of intimidating a lawyer, victim or witness in a criminal case, a third degree felony. This separate case has not been scheduled for another hearing until July.
Additionally, Joiner was scheduled to appear Monday for a sentencing hearing on other counts to which he pleaded guilty on April 19 — felony assault, a second-degree felony and two counts of aiding and abetting unlawful transportation of drugs on the grounds of a detention center. , each a third-degree felony. These charges relate to injuring another inmate, Rusty Ray Altman, on September 11, 2021, and attempting to get Kenst to bring him drugs while he was in prison between September 11 and September 11, 2021. August 23, 2021. This sentencing hearing has moved to the Washam courtroom and will be completed at the same hearing as the murder conviction on May 23.