YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A West Side man who had his murder conviction overturned for the death of his stepmother pleaded guilty Wednesday to amended charges in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
James Jarrell, 41, entered guilty pleas before Judge Anthony Donofrio to charges of involuntary manslaughter (amended from aggravated murder), tampering with evidence, receiving stolen property and kidnapping for the July 7, 2015, stabbing death of his stepmother Tina Jarrell, 55, at a Wellington Avenue home on the West Side.
Jarrell received an agreed-upon sentence of 20 years with credit for the time he has served since he was arrested in 2015. Prosecutors will oppose any request for judicial release.
Assistant Prosecutor Patrick Fening said family members of the victim know of the agreement and approved it. They did not want to be in court, Fenning said.
“I know my actions affected a lot of people,” Jarrell said. “I can’t apologize enough. I didn’t plan for this to happen.”
Jarrell was originally convicted in August 2018 by a jury of Tina Jarrell’s death but that conviction was overturned in 2021 by the Seventh District Court of Appeals, which ruled that the previous judge in the case erred by not allowing Jarrell to introduce evidence of childhood trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder as mitigation for his actions.
Jarrell has had six different court-appointed lawyers; three before and during his first trial and three more after his conviction was overturned. He was set to go on trial Oct. 30.
During his first trial, prosecutors said Jarrell went up the Wellington Avenue home to ask his stepmother for money to buy drugs, and when she refused, he slit her throat.
Jarrell’s attorneys during his first trial said their client was suffering from drug abuse and the residual effects of childhood sexual abuse when he killed his stepmother.
Jarrell was arrested a couple of days after the murder in Pittsburgh in his stepmother’s car. He had also been using her credit cards.