Man pleads guilty in Pytash case

STEUBENVILLE –Michael Shane, 50, of Toronto decided to accept a plea agreement on Monday, just before the start of jury selection in a case involving the disappearance of Stephanie Pytash, 35, who was last seen in early 2016.

Shane pleaded guilty to kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced by Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Michelle Miller to 20 years in prison.

Shane had been charged with aggravated murder and murder, in addition to abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

Co-defendant Summer Malyshev, 39, was convicted earlier this month of aggravated murder, murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

Evidence presented during Malyshev’s trial showed Pytash was lured to a home at 427 county Road 42, Toronto, by Shane under the rouse they were going to rob Malyshev. Malyshev placed garbage bags over a bedroom window and was waiting for Shane and Pytash to arrive, according to testimony.

Four women who were held in the county jail with Malyshev testified during her trial that Malyshev 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 woman 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.

Malyshev faces life in prison without eligibility of parole or parole eligibility after serving 20, 25 or 30 years in prison. Miller’s court was working Monday on getting the sentencing done today.

Pytash’s family wasn’t in the courtroom for Shane’s plea and sentencing. Prosecutor Jane Hanlin said the Pytash family had agreed with Shane’s sentencing.

“This was the final step in bringing peace and conclusion in this matter,” Hanlin said. “I believe he could have been convicted (of aggravated murder), but that would have involved years and years of appeals. This bring closure to the family.”

Defense attorneys Steven Stickles and Aaron Richardson didn’t have a comment after Shane’s sentencing.

The defense team last week tried to get statements made by Shane at the sheriff’s department suppressed, but Miller overruled that request. Then Shane also said he wanted to fire his defense team and tried to get his own retained lawyer. When that didn’t work out, Shane on Thursday agreed to continue using Stickles and Richardson as his attorneys.