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Gurto could receive death penalty if convicted of aggravated murder


Joshua D. Gurto charged with the rape and murder of 13-month-old girl

William A. West

JEFFERSON_Alleged rapist and murderer Joshua D. Gurto, 37, of Conneaut, was arraigned Friday before Ashtabula County Common Pleas Judge Thomas Harris in Jefferson. Gurto is charged with raping and murdering 13-month-old Sereniti Jazzlynn-Sky Blankenship Sutley, of Conneaut, Saturday, Oct. 7 at a Clark Street apartment.

AshtabulaCurrent / William A. West
Joshua D. Gurto listens to Common Pleas Judge Thomas Harris during Gurto’s arraignment on counts of aggravated murder, murder, rape, felonious assault and domestic violence.

Gurto was arraigned on eight counts, two counts of aggravated murder, unclassified felonies, three charges of murder, unclassified felonies, one charge of rape, a class one felony, felonious assault, a class two felony, and domestic violence, a first degree misdemeanor. The aggravated murder charges carry a possible death sentence.
Ashtabula County Prosecutor Nicholas Iarocci and Chief Assistant Prosecutor Cecilia Cooper requested that Gurto’s bail be set at $1 million or surety. Judge Harris granted the request. The defense team of Thomas Shaughnessy and Ariana Tarighati did not object to the bail amount.
An immediate family member chose not to speak to the media on advice from her lawyer.
Future proceedings will be held in the courtroom of Ashtabula County Common Pleas Judge Marianne Sezon.





Joshua D. Gurto faces rape and murder charges after death of 13-month-old Conneaut girl.

William A. West

CONNEAUT_A nationwide manhunt for a Conneaut man suspected of raping and murdering a 13-month-old girl in early October came to a close early Friday morning outside a Sheetz store in Franklin Park, Pa.
Joshua Gurto, 37, was arrested without incident after being recognized by a Franklin Park Police officer authorities said during a press conference Friday morning at Conneaut City Hall. Gurto had been the subject of an concentrated search for more than two weeks.
Gurto was taken to the Allegheny County jail in Pennsylvania where he will stay until his extradition to Ashtabula County sometime next week, Peter Elliott, U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio, said.

An Franklin Park Borough Police Department officer was parked at a Sheetz store about 2 a.m.when he recognized Gurto from the multiple images of Gurto posted on social media. The officer approached Gurto and asked him his name; the man admitted that he was Joshua Gurto. Gurto was ordered to lay down, he was secured and taken into custody, Elliott said.
Gurto was carrying a backpack that contained road maps of Pennsylvania and New York, a tent and knife, Elliott said. It is thought that Gurto hitchhiked across the region and slept in woods.
Gurto has been charged with the rape and murder of Sereniti Jazzlynn-Sky Blankenship-Sutley at a Clark Street apartment early Saturday, Oct. 7. The Ashtabula County coroner’s office said the child died from blunt trauma to her head and trunk.
The child was the daughter of Kelsie Blankenship, Gurto’s girlfriend, authorities said. Gurto is not the father of the girl Blankenship said.

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