James Worley’s booking photo at CCNO.
By: Forrest R. Church
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
WAUSEON, OH — Fulton County’s 58-year-old James Worley, convicted of killing Sierah Joughin, was sentenced by Fulton County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Robinson to death. Judge Robinson set the execution date for June 3rd, 2019 by appropriate Ohio authorities. Worley will remain on Death Row until the time of his execution. Worley showed little emotion in the midst of the death sentence handed down.
After the sentencing, Fulton County Prosecuting Attorney Scott A. Haselman read numerous printed statements directed towards James Worley from Sierah Joughin’s family members who also described their special bonds with Sierah.
After Haselman completed reading statements, Joughin’s aunt stood and openly shared with the court about her relationship with her niece along with fond family memories.
She went on to state, “I will never forgive James Worley for what he did. This heartless individual was sick enough to want to watch the life and the light to drain out of Sierah. He thought he had the power to take her life from us but he was mistaken. Her light can never be dimmed, her light shines brighter today than it ever has before. Sierah has done more good and positively touched more people’s lives today in her short 20 years on earth.” Sierah’s aunt continued by stating the level of pain and loss the family has and will experience.
Sierah’s uncle followed by reading a short statement.
Next, Sierah’s mother shared with the court her daughter’s academic achievements, social activities and family involvement. She shared the level of emotional turmoil the family has experienced and level of loss they are experiencing now and expected in the future. Sierah’s mother went on to indicate her support of the death sentence.
In closing Sierah’s mother stated, “She (Sierah) has inspired people she did not know and I can only wonder what great things she would have accomplished if she was still alive. But in her death I know she is moving mountains and as her mother, I could not be more proud of the person she was.”
Earlier this afternoon Worley was given the opportunity to address the court in which he spent nearly an hour indicating reasons why he was not guilty, indicating someone else conducted the murder and pointing toward human feces found in the area (he believed to be of the murder) but never tested for DNA evidence.
In the midst of Worley’s court address, Sierah Joughin’s family and supporters stood up row by row leaving the courtroom after Worley began describing Sierah Joughin’s appearance; after a brief pause, Worley continued his address. Joughin’s family and supporters did return to the courtroom for Judge Robinson’s sentencing decision.
Before ruling on his decision between life in prison or the death penalty, Judge Robinson recapped the highlights of the case along with the court’s findings on Worley’s background and mental health conditions, specifically what the court considered when making the sentence.
Jurors convicted Worley three weeks ago in the July 2016 death of Joughin, a 20-year-old University of Toledo student who found dead in a cornfield three days after she was last seen near her rural Fulton County home after taking a bicycle ride with her boyfriend.
Worley was imprisoned more than two decades ago for abducting a woman in 1990.
Her family wants state lawmakers to create a public registry that tracks people convicted of violent crimes. The state Senate earlier this month approved a bill to do just that.
Forrest R. Church may be reached at email@example.com