Trial set for man in 2017 fatal beating case

May 2, 2019

HUNTINGTON — A trial date has been set for a man accused in the fatal beating of a woman found on a West Huntington porch in 2017.

Zaire Ashanti Monroe, aka Shareef, 36, will have a first-degree murder trial July 30 before Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Paul Farrell.

Monroe is accused of fatally beating Lisa Washburn, 39, of South Point, Ohio, on June 1, 2017. Washburn was found on the porch of a house at the intersection of 10th Avenue West and 5th Street West, nearly two blocks away from where Monroe lived and where the altercation allegedly began.

Monroe went before Farrell for a pretrial hearing Tuesday, where Farrell ruled on motions filed by defense attorneys and Cabell County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Joe Fincham.

Fincham filed a motion to introduce Monroe’s behavior following the slaying as evidence of Monroe’s alleged guilt. Fincham said multiple witnesses placed Monroe in Huntington around the time of the slaying, but he allegedly fled the state.

Police filed a murder warrant against Monroe just hours after the June 1, 2017, incident, but he was not jailed until July 19, 2017, near Sarasota, Florida.

Fincham called Huntington Police Detective Steve Fitz to testify. Fitz said he spoke

Monroe’s father and other witnesses who saw Monroe in Huntington the night before the slaying. Fitz said he did not search Monroe’s home, but reviewed a list of evidence. He did not know if physical evidence showed Monroe had been staying at the house or if the evidence belonged to Monroe.

Defense attorney Jack Dolance argued prosecutors should not be allowed to make the argument.

“Mr. Fitz, the state’s witness, has no firsthand knowledge that Mr. Monore even lived at the address that he supposedly fled from in this case,” Dolance said. “He doesn’t even know if Mr. Monroe lived there.”

However, Farrell said the issue is whether Monroe fled the state and not from that particular residence. He granted prosecutors permission to make the argument during trial.

Also Tuesday, Farrell set a May 9 hearing for Dolance to call witnesses in support of motions he filed to suppress evidence and ultimately dismiss the case against Monroe.

Dolance said police had searched Monroe’s home and collected evidence without a warrant, which they obtained afterward. Police may only perform a search without a warrant under certain exceptions to the Fourth Amendment, including when evidence is in plain view or when people may be in immediate danger.

According to the warrant, police canvassing the area where Washburn’s body was found came upon Monroe’s home “standing wide open with several lights on and furniture overturned.” Police said they then saw blood inside the home and entered.

Dolance said he was prepared to argue police performed an unlawful search, but Farrell questioned why he did not subpoena witnesses to testify. Dolance said he was relying on emails with prosecutors and believed they would subpoena necessary officers for Tuesday’s hearing.

“You’ve been practicing long enough that you should always cover whoever you need with a subpoena so that they’re here for sure,” Farrell said.

Also Tuesday, Farrell denied a defense motion to call an expert witness during trial who specializes in the psychology of witness memory. Farrell said it is up to the jury to decide the credibility of a witness.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He can be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.