Cleveland -- A 29-year-old man accused of aggravated murder in the fatal shooting of a Twinsburg woman after a traffic crash in Solon Aug. 27 pleaded not guilty Sept. 14 in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.
Matthew Ryan Desha, of North Ridgeville, also pleaded not guilty to an additional count of murder; four counts of attempted aggravated murder; five counts of felonious assault; and four counts of discharging a firearm in a prohibited area in the shooting death of Deborah J. Pearl, 53, of Twinsburg.
Like the aggravated murder charge, the other charges also include firearm specifications.
Joseph Frolik, director of communications and public policy for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, said Prosecutor Timothy McGinty could seek the death penalty or life in prison in the matter.
"Before that would happen, a capital review committee would go over the facts of the case with the prosecutor," Frolik said. "They might ask the defense if they want to offer anything in mitigation."
McGinty would then make the final decision, Frolik said.
According to Frolik, the four counts of attempted aggravated murder; four of the five counts of felonious assault; and four counts of discharging a firearm in a prohibited area are related to Desha allegedly firing on four other people at the scene, according to Frolik.
Desha was found to be indigent Sept. 14. Attorneys Edward Mullin and Thomas Shaughnessy have been appointed to represent him.
Shaughnessy did not return calls seeking comment.
Mullin said he would be happy to discuss the case "down the road."
"This is day one of the case," Mullin said. "It just started."
The case has been assigned to Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Kathleen Ann Satula. A pretrial was set for Sept. 19 before Satula, according to court records. Check back at www.twinsburgbulletin.com for results of the pretrial hearing.
According to Solon police, Desha drove his black Jeep Grand Cherokee around several cars stopped at a red light Aug. 27, ran the light and collided with Pearl's Ford Taurus at the intersection of Richmond and Solon roads.
Witnesses say Desha exited his overturned vehicle with an AR-15 rifle and shot at Pearl while she was still inside her car. He then shot her multiple times when she exited her vehicle, according to police.
Police have not offered a motive for the shooting and say that Desha and Pearl, who was on her way to work at South East Harley-Davidson in Bedford Heights the morning of Aug. 27, did not know each other.
First responders to scene said Desha "appeared to be wildly delusional and erratic," according to Solon police.
According to an Aug. 27 affidavit for a search warrant of Desha's home on Lear Nagle Road, Desha reportedly told police he has bipolar disorder, as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his military service as a Marine in Iraq.
Desha remains in Cuyahoga County Jail on a $1 million cash, property or surety bond.