78-year-old Stark County man on trial for two murders

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A man facing two murder cases dating back to the 1970s is set to begin trial.

Gus Sapharas, 78, of Jackson Township is accused of stabbing Karen Bentz, 18, of Tallmadge to death in 1970. He’s also charged in the stabbing death of 20-year-old Loretta Jean Davis of Brimfield Township in 1975.

Both of the women were stabbed in the chest and left along the side of the road in Summit County.

Sapharas faces numerous charges that include aggravated murder and murder. He’s pleaded not guilty.

Sapharas criminal history dates back decades. He was convicted the 1976 rape of a woman from Cuyahoga Falls. Sapharas was previously charged with the 1991 murder of a Columbus woman named Bonita Parker, 20, but later acquitted.

Through the 80s, Sapharas served a lengthy 14-year sentence for a series of rape convictions.

Jury selection for the two murder charges is set to begin Wednesday in Summit County Common Pleas Court in the aggravated murder cold-case trial. Testimony is expected to begin on Thursday. The trial is expected to last a week and a half.