WAUSEON – The rural Delta man accused of abducting and murdering 20-year-old Sierah Joughin will face trial next year after pleading not guilty Thursday to all charges in a 19-count indictment.
James Worley, 57, of 10627 County Road 6, sat shackled before Judge James E. Barber in Fulton County Common Pleas Court as his attorney, Mark Berling, announced that Worley pleads “not guilty to each and every count.” The courtroom was crowded with Joughin family members and supporters.
Worley’s trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 25, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. He waived the right to have his trial begin within 90 days after Berling requested additional time from the court to prepare his case.
His final pretrial hearing will be held Aug. 24, 2017, at 9 a.m.
Fulton County Prosecutor Scott Haselman and Assistant Prosecutor Paul Kennedy attended the brief hearing.
Worley was indicted by a Fulton County grand jury in August on 19 counts that included two counts of abduction, four counts of kidnapping, two counts of murder, two counts of aggravated murder, one count of gross abuse of a corpse, and one count of tampering with evidence. He is being held without bond at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio near Stryker.
A search of Worley’s property led to the discovery of a hidden room in his barn with restraints, a freezer containing blood, and several pairs of women’s underwear. Cameras were found installed throughout the property.
He was charged in 1990 with attacking former Whitehouse resident Robin Gardner as she rode her bicycle. Gardner escaped, and Worley was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.