Hillsboro man found not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter

Wesley Coonrod, Source: Highland County Detention Center
Wesley Coonrod, Source: Highland County Detention Center

CIRCLEVILLE, OH (FOX19) - The jury found a Hillsboro man accused of killing his two young sons in a fire last March, not guilty of murder, but guilty on two counts of manslaughter. That news comes from the Highland County Press who is reporting to us from inside the courtroom.

Wesley Coonrod was accused of killing his sons, ages 3 and 4. Jurors found that Coonrod did not set the fire that killed the two boys, and acquitted him on the charges of aggravated arson and two counts of murder, according to Highland County Press reporter Brandy Chandler.

On Monday morning, a juror was dismissed by the judge and the seven hours of deliberation that occurred on Friday were to be forgotten and the jury was to start over with the alternate. The judge informed the court that the juror who was removed had informed the other jurors that a similar situation had occurred in her family regarding children and a fire, which had not been disclosed in jury selection.

Coonrod took the stand Friday in his own defense, claiming he did not start the fire and tried to break down the door of his apartment to save the children.

The State rested its case last Wednesday.

Wesley Coonrod was convicted of two counts of child endangering in October, but the jury deadlocked on charges of murder, aggravated murder and arson. He is facing two charges of murder and one charge of aggravated arson in his retrial. While his first trial had death penalty implications, prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty in this trial. He now faces life in prison if convicted.

They are now in the sentencing phase of the trial. Fox19 will keep you informed.

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