Malyshev could face life without parole in death of Stephanie Pytash

Summer Malyshev, 39, listens to closing arguments Friday in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court with one of her defense attorneys, Bernard Battistel. The jury found Malyshev found guilty of aggravated murder, murder, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse. — Mark Law

STEUBENVILLE –A Jefferson County Common Pleas Court jury deliberated for about three-and-one-half hours Friday before returning a guilty verdict against Summer Malyshev, 39, in the aggravated murder of Stephanie Pytash, 35, who disappeared in early 2016.

Malyshev also was found guilty of murder, murder, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.

Judge Michelle Miller set sentencing for 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 17.

Malyshev faces a sentence on the aggravated murder charge of life in prison without eligibility of parole or a sentence that would offer parole eligibility after serving 20, 25 or 30 years in prison.

Co-defendant Michael Shane, 50, of Toronto faces the same charges. His trial is set to begin Oct. 23 before Miller.

Pytash was lured to a home at 427 county Road 42, Toronto, by Shane under the ruse they were going to rob Malyshev, according to testimony. Malyshev placed garbage bags over a bedroom window and was waiting for Shane and Pytash to arrive, according to testimony.

Four women who were in the county jail with Malyshev testified during the trial that Malyshev had told them about the murder of Pytash.

Malyshev said Shane choked Pytash and Malyshev claimed to have kicked Pytash in the face while Pytash was asking for help, one of the women said.

Shane put Pytash’s body in the basement for several days before burning it in a pit in the rear of the house, according to testimony.

Gruesome details of how the body was burned were offered during the women’s testimony.

Prior to the strangulation, Pytash asked Shane what he was going to do and Shane responded by saying, “We are going to kill you,” according to testimony.

Members of Pytash’s family cried as the verdicts were read. Malyshev showed no emotion.

Prosecutor Jane Hanlin said she was grateful for the service of the jury.

“It was a long week with very graphic testimony. I am grateful to the Pytash family for the grace they showed. They waited all this time for justice, and today is the first day toward that,” Hanlin said.

Malyshev had given videotaped statements to detective Jason Hanlin of the Jefferson County Drug Task Force and Sheriff Fred Abdalla.

Defense attorneys Aaron Miller and Bernard Battistel argued prior to trial that the videotaped statements should have been suppressed because Malyshev had been offered immunity if she could implicate Shane. Authorities withdrew the immunity offer after they determined Malyshev was being less than truthful. Judge Miller allowed the eight hours of the taped interviews to be shown to the jury.

Attorney Miller said the judge’s ruling will be raised on appeal.

Miller said Malyshev had been offered immunity if she had told the truth and the whole story.

“Then she tells the whole story,” he said.

The defense tried to convince the jury that Pytash was already dead from the strangulation when Shane told Pytash to give him a cord. Shane wrapped the cord around Pytash’s neck and, according to testimony, Malyshev and Shane grabbed ends of the cord.

Malyshev, in her taped interview, said she dropped the cord once she felt it go taut.

Prosecutor Hanlin had argued to the jury that Malyshev didn’t have to be the principal offender in the murder, and that she could be found guilty of aggravated murder and murder if she aided or abetted in the crimes.

Testimony showed Pytash and Malyshev had a relationship with Shane. Pytash was repeatedly contacting Shane and that is when Shane and Malyshev launched the plan to lure Pytash to the home, Hanlin said.

“This has always been a case about ‘we’ and not just about Michael Shane,” Hanlin said.

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