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Solon police charge North Ridgeville man with murder of Twinsburg woman

by Andrew Schunk | Twinsburg Bulletin Editor Published: August 30, 2016 12:00 AM
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Solon -- Records show that a North Ridgeville man charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a Twinsburg woman after a traffic accident Aug. 27 served two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps and received treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Matthew Ryan Desha, 29, charged in the murder of Deborah J. Pearl, 53, told North Ridgeville police in 2011 about his PTSD diagnosis, according to the Associated Press.

According to records, police were asked to check on him two years later after he stopped attending PTSD group therapy sessions at a Department of Veterans Affairs clinic.

Desha made his initial appearance by video Aug. 29 before Bedford Municipal Court Judge Brian J. Melling.

He was charged Aug. 29 by Solon police with one count of murder, a first-degree felony, after police say Desha collided with Pearl at the intersection of Richmond and Solon roads, exited his overturned vehicle and shot Pearl several times following the two-vehicle crash.

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Melling set bond at $1 million cash and appointed Cleveland lawyer John Thomas to represent Desha. Thomas did not return a call seeking comment by press time..

The judge also ordered Desha, who remains in jail, to return to court with his attorney Aug. 31 to set a preliminary hearing date.

Police said Aug. 27 there is no known connection between Desha and Pearl, apart from the traffic crash, nor a known motive for the shooting.

Pearl's Ford Taurus, traveling northbound on Richmond Road, collided around 7:20 a.m. Aug. 27 with a Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Desha, who was traveling eastbound on Solon Road, according to police.

Police say Desha ran a red light. His Jeep rolled over several times, coming to rest upside down.

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"It was at this time that [witnesses said Desha] exited his overturned vehicle with a rifle and proceeded to the victim's vehicle, shooting her just outside of the passenger side of the car," Solon police said in an Aug. 27 release. "She was transported to the hospital where she succumbed to her wounds."

According to Solon police, Pearl died at University Hospitals Bedford Medical Center at 8:18 a.m. from "several" gunshot wounds. She was found near the passenger side door of her vehicle, according to police.

Police say they believe Desha shot Pearl after she exited her vehicle, which came to rest upright at the southeast corner of Richmond and Solon roads.

Solon police say Desha suffered "bumps and scrapes" from the accident and refused medical transport.

911 calls began coming in to the Chagrin Valley Dispatch Center just before 7:30 a.m. regarding a traffic crash and gunfire in the area of Solon and Richmond roads.

"... there's a man walking around with an AK-47 shooting all over the place," one 911 caller told a Chagrin Valley dispatcher.

The 911 caller goes on to state that Desha ultimately laid down on the ground near the scene of the accident, after walking around the area with what police later said was a 5.56mm, Stag Arms AR-15 rifle.

The Solon Police Department Detective Bureau continues to investigate the circumstances around both the shooting and traffic accident. The Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Identification is assisting in the investigation.

Pearl, a mother of three who lived in Twinsburg with her fiance, worked at Southeast Harley Davidson in Bedford Heights, a family friend told the Twinsburg Bulletin.

"Members of the Solon Police Department wish to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Deborah Pearl," the Aug. 27 release states. "It is with great sadness that we release this information."

According to records at Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas, Desha was arrested in Mahoning County in May after police pulled him over and found a loaded 9mm handgun and three additional loaded magazines in his car. He was charged with felony carrying a concealed weapon and that case is awaiting grand jury action.

Editor's Note: Reporter Gina Mace contributed to this story.

Email: aschunk@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9424

Twitter: @twinsburgohio

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