Howard D. Walters appears on a virtual meeting on his bond hearing before Magistrate Paul Lange on July 24. Credit: Ashland County Common Pleas

ASHLAND — An Ashland County judge set a $3 million bond Monday against a man accused of killing his son-in-law six months ago.

Howard D. Walters, 58, of Ashland, is accused of shooting Kurtis Harstine, 41, in January.

An Ashland County grand jury indicted Walters on July 21 with two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated burglary, two counts of aggravated robbery and three counts of tampering with evidence.

Walters could receive the death penalty if convicted on all counts, according to Ashland County Prosecutor Chris Tunnell.

Ashland County Common Pleas Magistrate Paul Lange said judge Dave Stimpert recused himself from hearing the case, necessitating the Ohio Supreme Court’s appointment of a visiting judge for the case. 

Stimpert was not immediately available to comment on his recusal from Walters’ case.

Lange set the bond at $3 million despite Walters attorney’s plea for a smaller $150,000 amount. 

“Obviously these are very serious charges,” said Sean Boone, Walters’ attorney, during a virtual Zoom hearing Monday. “However, I do not believe that Mr. Walters is a flight risk. He was contacted by law enforcement back in late January … he remained in Ashland throughout the investigation.” 

Ashland police found Harstine dead “with multiple gunshot wounds” on the second floor of a house on Township Road 851 on Jan. 27. Investigators said Harstine used to live there with his family.

“There was a concern from family and friends that he had not been heard from and was missing,” Tunnell said in a press release issued July 21. 

Tunnell said the Lucas County Medical Examiner determined Harstine was shot to death in the early evening of Jan. 26.

Officials said Harstine, when shot, was in the process of divorce proceedings from his estranged wife, Walters’ daughter.

“The charges generally allege that Walters shot Kurtis Harstine to death inside the residence on Township Road 851, took Harstine’s Ford F-150 and cell phone and then destroyed evidence,” Tunnell said. 

Court records confirm divorce proceedings for the Harstines began in May 2022 and that the separation involved children.

Lead reporter for Ashland Source who happens to own more bikes than pairs of jeans. His coverage focuses on city and county government, and everything in between. He lives in Mansfield with his wife and...

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