Following appeal, Grube re-sentenced to life in prison

Amber Gillenwater

March 30, 2014

GALLIPOLIS — During a hearing on Thursday before Gallia County Common Pleas Judge D. Dean Evans a Gallia County woman convicted of killing her infant son in 2010 was re-sentenced to a term of life imprisonment without parole.

Kansas D. Grube, 28, who is currently incarcerated in the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio, was originally sentenced in 2010 after she was found guilty of the murder of her infant son Jaxson Grube.

Reportedly, the two-and-a-half month old infant was found unresponsive by first responders who arrived on scene at the Grube home on Ohio 218 at approximately 11 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2010.

Initially, the infant was thought to have suffered from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome due to the lack of any outward physical abnormalities, but after an autopsy — a standard procedure in the death of an infant — two skull fractures were found on the child’s head. One fracture was located above the left ear and the other on the back of the skull.

Grube was later arrested as the only suspect in this case, and, following a three-day jury trial in September 2010, a jury found Grube guilty of aggravated murder and endangering children. She was subsequently sentenced to life without parole and was ordered to serve an additional eight-year sentence for endangering children.

The defendant later filed an appeal with the Fourth District Court of Appeals of the Ohio Supreme Court and recently had her case remanded back to the common pleas court for further proceedings after the judgment in this case was partially affirmed and partially reversed by the court of appeals.

The defendant’s appeal contends that the trial court violated her rights to due process and fair trial in the absence of sufficient evidence to convict her of aggravated murder, that her constitutional rights were violated when the trial court failed to give jury instructions as to the lesser offenses of reckless homicide and/or involuntary manslaughter, that the court erred when it failed to merge her convictions for aggravated murder and child endangering for purposes of sentences and that she was rendered ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.

According to the decision filed by the court of appeals and signed by Presiding Judge Matthew McFarland, the court of appeals found that the trial court erred in failing to consider whether the defendant’s charges were the result of a single action of the defendant or “allied offenses,” while the remaining three contentions as outlined in Grube’s appeal were overruled by the court. As such, this case was remanded back to the common pleas court for further proceedings.

The defendant appeared on Thursday morning with her court-appointed counsel Barbara Wallen and was re-sentenced to life imprisonment for a charge of aggravated murder after the court considered and subsequently determined that the charges of aggravated murder and child endangering in this case are allied offenses and should be merged for purposes of sentencing. Thus, the eight-year sentence for endangering children was dropped and the life sentence for aggravated murder was maintained in this case.

Gallia County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Eric Mulford who, along with Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins, represented the State of Ohio in this case, reported following Thursday’s hearing that the determination that the charges of aggravated murder and child endangering are allied offenses of similar import was required by the Ohio Supreme Court case of State v. Johnson, which was decided after Grube’s conviction in 2010, but must be applied retroactively.

“The state’s interest was in making sure that the defendant was re-sentenced to life without parole for aggravated murder, and that was achieved. From a procedural standpoint, not objecting to the finding that the offenses are allied saves the taxpayers the cost of another appeal on that issue, while preserving the life sentence for the homicide,” Mulford said. “Jaxson’s death was avoidable and our office will always fight when necessary to make sure that the life sentence is not disturbed.”