Convicted serial killer pleads guilty to more murders in Richland County


RICHLAND COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) – Convicted serial killer Shawn Grate plead guilty to two more murders Friday – this time in Richland County.

According to prosecutors, Friday was about two things: making sure the families get closure but also making sure that Shawn Grate stays behind bars for the rest of his life.

Shawn Grate entered the Richland County courtroom with his hands and feet shackled, to plead guilty to four criminal counts: two of them for the murders of Candace Cunningham and Rebekah Leicy.

“I will never forgive him. Not once will I ever forgive him,” says Cunningham’s sister, Ashley Fowler.

Some of Cunningham’s family shared their pain through letters read by an advocate – others took the opportunity to tell Grate what they thought of him.

Grate was restless in the court room but his voice was calm and clear when it was his turn to speak.

“I know it’s going to be hard to forgive me, but I just apologize for my actions. There ain’t really much else I can say about that. Can’t change nothin’. We have to move on. I’m sorry,” he said.

The judge didn’t hand down his own sentence, instead the prosecution and defense worked out an agreed-upon sentence of life without parole for one of the murders and 15 years to life for the other. They will run one after the other effectively keeping him in jail for the rest of his life. Afterward, Cunningham’s family had this to say.

“As long as I know he’s not going to be able to get out of prison, to hurt any other women or young ladies, I’m satisfied. You know, what I really wanted Ashland is going to take care of that,” says Dianna Gardener, Cunningham’s mother.

Grate has been sentenced to death for other murders he was convicted of in Ashland County.

During Friday’s hearing Grate’s attorney said that his client had information about other crimes in other counties and was hoping to get those issues resolved as well.

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