Death penalty could be off the table for Sierah Joughin's accused killer

WAUSEON (13abc Action News) - A plea deal may be in the works for the man accused of killing Sierah Joughin. The Fulton County woman abducted off her bike and murdered in 2016. It’s a potential deal could remove the death penalty.

It's not a done deal yet, it's something proposed by the prosecution. The defense is still mulling it over with defendant James Worley. It's the first sign that this case may never go to trial.

In a long sleeved gray shirt Worley slowly made his way into the Fulton County Common Pleas court Wednesday afternoon. The hearing addressed a request from the defense to move the trial date, after getting new information from Worley's sister. That pointed an investigator several different directions.

"I literally have a three foot pile of documents as a result of Mr. Erickson's investigation," said Mark Berling, Worley’s attorney.

The judge granted a request to move the trial to March so a defense neuro-psychologist can review the data. After the hearing, the bombshell so many have speculated about.

"We have just received a proposed plea agreement from the state of Ohio," said Berling.

So there may never be a trial into the death of Sierah Joughin. Her body found in a Fulton county corn field after she was last seen riding her bike. For that crime, Worley currently faces the death penalty if convicted. This deal would pull the death penalty off the table.

“Yes, it does but there are some other stipulations, concerns that we'll be able to talk about next time," said Berling.

Fulton County prosecutor Scott Haselman would not comment on the plea proposal. Now everyone waits to see if Worley takes the deal, including his lawyers.

"Can't tell you that yet. We don't know," said Berling.

We could learn that answer in February. That's when another pretrial is scheduled.