POMEROY — A plea hearing for Ernest Roach is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday at the Meigs County Courthouse.
The plea hearing is in lieu of a jury trial, which was originally set for 9 a.m. Sept. 21, with an original pre-trial court date of 9:30 a.m. Sept. 10. According to both documents, these court dates were “vacated due to plea.”
Roach was indicted by a grand jury one count of murder, two counts of compelling prostitution, two counts of tampering with evidence and one count of gross abuse of a corpse for the death of Ericka Brown.
Brown’s body was originally discovered Aug. 30, 2014, on the banks of the Ohio River near Portland.
Roach, 37, of Racine, was taken into custody the same day on federal charges in Kanahwa County in connection with the disappearance of Brown after being stopped by an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper.
The murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life.
The case was investigated by the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation and the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Meigs County Prosecutor’s Office assisted.
A press release about the missing teen first appeared on the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office website Aug. 13, 2014, at 5:15 p.m. The press release stated that Brown was reported missing by her parents the morning of Aug. 10, 2014.
The release could not identify what Brown was wearing at the time of her disappearance, but reported that Brown was about 5 feet, 10 inches tall, about 100 pounds in weight and had sandy blonde hair.
According to a release from the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, police learned Brown was using Internet postings on Craigslist to meet men.
The Associated Press reported that law enforcement searched hundreds of thousands of phone records until evidence indicated Roach met with Brown the night she disappeared, the sheriff’s office said. Roach was questioned by police and volunteered to take a lie-detector test but never showed up for the meeting.
Look for an update on the plea hearing online and in Friday’s edition of the The Daily Sentinel.
Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155, Ext. 2555, or on Twitter @JournalistKriz.