Fall Trial Set in Pa. Woman's Murder, Dismemberment

An eastern Pennsylvania man accused of having killed and dismembered a woman whose remains were left along two interstates six years ago is scheduled for trial this fall.

Jury selection is set to begin Oct. 27 in the trial of Charles Ray Hicks, 40, of Tobyhanna. Opening statements are scheduled for Nov. 5.

Prosecutors say Hicks tortured and killed Deanna Null, 36, then dismembered her and scattered her remains in trash bags along Interstates 80 and 380 in the Stroudsburg area, 70 miles north of Philadelphia. The Monroe County district attorney's office plans to seek the death penalty if Hicks is convicted of first-degree murder.

Authorities say Null, a mother of two, was last seen in Scranton in January 2008 getting into a car matching the description of Hicks' vehicle. After her remains were found in trash bags along the interstates, police found similar trash bags, Null's severed hands wrapped in an old newspaper and a saw in Hicks' home, along with a blood-stained work boot in the trunk of his car, they said.

Hicks told authorities he met Null in Scranton and gave her drugs in exchange for sex but didn't harm her.

Defense attorney William Sayer asked the court Tuesday to hold the trial in another county, citing news coverage of the case. The judge is to rule later on that motion and others.

The trial had been scheduled for 2011 but was delayed after prosecutors twice appealed a judge's ruling barring them from calling several witnesses. They had planned to call seven women who said Hicks threatened or assaulted them, arguing that such testimony would demonstrate a pattern of behavior.

The judge said testimony from four of the witnesses would be repetitive and prejudicial to the defense. The state Supreme Court overturned that ruling last month, saying such a ruling should be made only after trial has begun.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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