Both sides prepare for trial

LISBON – Preparing for Christopher Miller’s aggravated murder trial next week, both the prosecution and defense attorneys took one last opportunity to meet with Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge C. Ashley Pike on Thursday.

Miller, 36, U.S. Route 62, Salem, is charged with aggravated murder, murder and tampering with evidence in the bludgeoning death of Matthew Bailey on Oct. 26. Besides using prior calculation and design in causing Bailey’s death, Miller allegedly attempted to conceal or remove blood evidence from both the inside and outside of his girlfriend’s 2001 Ford Escape, blood which was later reportedly found through DNA testing to be Bailey’s.

On Thursday, one of the issues of contention is redacted transcripts from some potential witnesses in the trial. Assistant County Prosecutor John Gamble said there have been prior instances of threats, not necessarily to these particular witnesses, but he was reluctant to have statements made available for fear of prejudicing the defendant.

Defense attorneys Jennifer Gorby and Charley Kidder argued Miller is incarcerated and has not had any access to potentially intimidate witnesses. Gorby requested to see the redacted portions of the transcripts.

Pike agreed to look over the statements and make a ruling, getting back with the attorneys within a short amount of time.

Additionally, the attorneys discussed a T-shirt, which could be brought as evidence. Gamble said it was recently discovered it had not been sent to the lab for DNA testing. Preliminary testing indicates the presence of human blood and Gamble said he expects results on the DNA tests in a written report by Monday.

Finally, both sides agreed to allow reports to be presented to the jury for evaluations of fingerprints and impressions, which were also forensically evaluated.

Gamble also indicated plans to take the jury to see locations involved in the case, prior to opening statements being made.

Miller’s trial is scheduled to begin next Tuesday.

Bailey is believed to have died from severe bludgeoning to the head with blood evidence found eight to 10 feet from the body on nearby trees and cornstalks. Miller reportedly also had Bailey’s blood on his clothing.

Prior to his death, Bailey was accused by the widow of Gerald Klusch as causing her husband’s death in 2011. In late September 2013, Leah Klusch filed a civil lawsuit in county Common Pleas Court claiming Bailey shot and killed her husband. Gerald G. Klusch, 71, who owned farmland and lived on U.S. Route 30 just west of Lisbon, disappeared on Sept. 29, 2011.

Bailey was identified at the time of Klusch’s disappearance as the last person believed to have seen Klusch alive. Bailey was a farmhand who had worked for Klusch.