September 12, 2012

Summerfield indicted while prosecutors ponder death penalty 


Prosecutors are expected to decide within weeks whether a case against an Ohio man accused of strangling and stabbing his former girlfriend while vacationing on Hatteras Island qualifies for a possible death sentence.

With the indictment of Nathan Summerfield on Monday, Sept. 10, by a Dare County Grand Jury for first degree murder, the case has entered the discovery phase where the prosecutors provide evidence to the defense attorney.

The prosecutors will also hold a hearing in front of a Superior Court judge for a determination if the case meets the standards of a capital case.
“We like to do those kinds of things as soon as practicable,” Nancy Lamb, the chief assistant district attorney who is prosecuting the case, said Tuesday.

Edenton attorney Samuel Dixon has been assigned to defend Summerfield, of Ashland, Ohio, by the North Carolina Capital Defenders Office. Dare County District Court Judge Edgar Barnes had ruled last month that Summerfield qualified for a court-appointed lawyer, and temporarily assigned First District Public Defender Andy Womble to represent the defendant.

Dixon said he was appointed shortly after Summerfield’s first court appearance. A graduate of Wake Forest University law school, Dixon said he has been working as a defense attorney since 1988 and has represented numerous defendants in murder cases throughout the northeastern counties. If it is ruled a capital case, an additional attorney will be assigned along with Dixon.

Dixon declined to comment on specifics of the Summerfield case.

Summerfield was arrested in a motel about 30 miles from his home after an intensive five-week manhunt in connection to the death of Lynn Jackenheimer, 33, also from Ashland, during a July 4 week vacation in Salvo. Her body was found on July 14 at an isolated cul-de-sac in Frisco.  An autopsy found she had been stabbed and strangled.

U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott in the Northern Ohio District said Tuesday that an investigation is still ongoing into Summerfield’s whereabouts while he was on the run and whether he had help evading capture.

The 27-year-old sleep technician at a medical clinic had fled the Outer Banks with his and Jackenheimer’s 3-year-old son and her 13-year-old daughter and dropped them off with relatives in Ohio. He then disappeared. The children were uninjured.  

According to news reports, a police warrant revealed that Summerfield had been arrested in December, 2009 for grabbing Jackenheimer, his on-and-off girlfriend for six years, pinning her down on a table by her throat and choking her. He then dragged her down the hall by her neck. The warrant also stated, reports said, that during an argument earlier that year, Jackenheimer was locked out of their residence by Summerfield when she was wearing no clothes.

His 60-day sentence on domestic violence charges was suspended.

Summerfield is being held in the Dare County Detention Center in Manteo.


Murder suspect makes first appearance in Dare County court 
Summerfield will return to Dare to face charges tonight or tomorrow

Summerfield extradition hearing is Friday
Man accused of murdering Ohio woman on Hatteras is captured
Authorities still searching for murder suspect
Ohio mother of two died of strangulation and stab wounds

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