Ohio judge declares mistrial for man accused of 9 arson deaths


AKRON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio judge has declared a mistrial for a man accused by prosecutors of killing nine people in two separate arson fires after questioning jurors behind closed doors.

The capital murder trial for Stanley Ford, 61, of Akron, began in March and was then halted by the coronavirus pandemic. His attorneys had been pushing for another delay or a mistrial because of concerns about COVID-19, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

Summit County Judge Christine Croce declared a mistrial on Monday and scheduled a pretrial hearing for Aug. 11. A new pool of jurors will be chosen and questioned in a process that could take several months, the newspaper reported.

Ford is accused of killing two people in 2016 and seven people, including five children, in 2017. Both fires occurred in Ford’s Akron neighborhood. He set the fires because of disputes with his neighbors, prosecutors have alleged.

His attorneys had asked the Ohio Supreme Court to grant a mistrial or delay. They dropped their request on Monday.