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Suspect in Clark homicide indicted on 3 counts

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A grand jury has indicted area resident Zyrian Atha-Arnett, 26, on two counts of murder and one count of felonious assault in the stabbing death earlier this year of Yellow Springs resident Leonid “Lonya” Clark. Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer announced the indictments at a press conference Friday afternoon, Nov. 15, at the county courthouse in Xenia. Bond for Atha-Arnett, who was originally held on a $750,000 security, was set by the grand jury at $900,000, Fischer said.

The announcement came a week after Sheriff’s deputies arrested Atha-Arnett on suspicion of killing Clark, a former schoolmate and friend since childhood. Atha-Arnett, who most recently was living in Enon, has been in custody at the Greene County Jail since his arrest.

Sheriff Fischer said Friday that Atha-Arnett’s arraignment — when he can plead to the charges — is scheduled next Friday, Nov. 22. The case has been assigned to Judge Michael Buckwalter, and Greene County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney David Hayes, who attended the press conference but didn’t speak, will lead the prosecution as chief trial counsel, Fischer said.

Also in attendance Friday afternoon were Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller, Yellow Springs Police Chief Brian Carlson and Sheriff’s Capt. Sean Magateaux.

“Thousands of hours were put into this investigation,” which included “hundreds of interviews and multiple search warrants,” Fischer said.

County Prosecutor Haller said that many of the search warrants were related to cell phone records and internet usage. According to court documents, investigators examined Atha-Arnett’s phone calls and text messages as well as his online search history, in addition to using phone location technology, to compile a timeline for what they think occurred in the days and weeks around Jan. 13, the last date Clark was reportedly seen alive.

The 26-year-old Clark’s fully clothed body was found nearly three months later, on April 12, in Glen Helen Nature Preserve, on the bank of the Little Miami River, just west of Grinnell Road. The preliminary autopsy listed multiple stab wounds as cause of death.

The sheriff said authorities think Clark was killed at or near the location his body was found. Fischer also said they think Atha-Arnett was solely responsible for Clark’s death.

Asked about a murder weapon, the sheriff deferred to the county prosecutor, who said authorities were withholding some evidence-related information from the public.

“We’re not going to try this case at a press conference. We’re not going to try it in the media,” Haller said. “We are somewhat limited in what we can tell you today.”

The prosecutor also declined to speak about a possible motive, which he said would come out in the trial.

He said charging Atha-Arnett with two counts of murder, a first-degree felony, provides different ways for the jury to consider his alleged actions. One count charges that the defendant caused Clark’s death “as a proximate result of … committing or attempting to commit an offense of violence that is a felony of the first or second degree, to wit: Felonious Assault,” while the second accuses that the defendant “did, purposely cause the death of another, to wit: Leonid A. Clark,” Each is punishable by a prison term of 15 years to life. 

For his part at the press conference, YS Police Chief Brian Carlson thanked the Sheriff’s office; the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which assisted in pursuing the case; and the village of Yellow Springs for tips and efforts in searching for Clark after he was reported missing in early February. He also offered condolences to the Clark family, who were in attendance, “for enduring what must be the most terrible reality a parent [could] ever face.”

 

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