By Denise Dick
The fourth wife of a Poland native accused of poisoning his third wife to death began feeling ill, after the man started bringing her coffee in violation of his bond conditions, according to prosecutors.
Judge Michael Jackson of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court has remanded Robert Girts, 59, to the Cuyahoga County Jail, at least temporarily.
The action came after an emergency hearing requested by Cuyahoga County prosecutors who argued that Girts poses a risk of harm to his fourth wife. The hearing Friday was continued until Thursday, after which the judge will make a final determination regarding Girts’ bond conditions.
Girts was twice convicted of killing his third wife, Diane, in 1992 in Parma. Prosecutors said she died of cyanide poisoning.
Now, prosecutors believe he used the Internet to look up antifreeze ingestion. Before being sent to jail, Girts had been visiting his fourth wife at work and bringing her coffee. The woman had been feeling ill and vomiting, according to a court motion.
Diane Girts was Bettianne Jones of Columbiana’s sister-in-law, and she’s pleased that Girts is back in jail.
“He’s been thumbing his nose at the law for four years, and it’s about time somebody paid attention,” Jones said.
Girts’ attorneys couldn’t be reached.
Girts was convicted of Diane’s murder in 1993, but that conviction was reversed by a state appeals court in 1994, and Girts was convicted again in a 1995 second trial.
The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals later found prosecutorial misconduct in the second trial and reversed the conviction.
The court in 2007 ordered Girts’ release unless the state court granted him a new trial within 180 days of the decision.
Girts wasn’t retried within six months, and in November 2008, he was released from prison on $100,000 bond pending retrial. His third trial is set for August.
Prosecutors had attempted twice previously and unsuccessfully to get Girts’ bond revoked, after his fourth wife said she was afraid of him and officials learned Girts wasn’t living where he was supposed to be.
The previous judge in the case ordered Girts not to have contact with his fourth wife or her family and that he was to reside in Poland with a relative.
The latest motion filed last week by Margaret Troia, an assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor, says he didn’t follow that restriction. It says that Girts is living in an apartment in Ashtabula County.
Girts continued to visit his current wife at her place of work, also in Ashtabula County, despite her telling him he is prohibited from doing so. He visited as recently as Jan. 17, according to the motion.
Girts brings her “coffee on each visit,” and she has “been feeling ill lately and often vomits,” the motion says. Because she doesn’t have health insurance, she hasn’t sought medical attention.
“The state anticipates that evidence will show that [Girts] admitted” to his wife “that he looked up antifreeze ingestion on the Internet,” the motion says. “He gave three accounts of why this was done.”
He said his dog stepped in antifreeze and he was trying to learn the side effects. He also said he was contemplating suicide by antifreeze when the couple broke up; and his third explanation, according to the prosecutor, was that he accidentally hit the enter key to search antifreeze intoxication.
The woman told Girts that he isn’t allowed any contact with her, and he told her “that this court’s rules do not apply to Ashtabula County and that he did not have to follow these rules,” according to the assistant prosecutor’s motion.
Girts’ first wife, the former Terrie Morris, died at 25, while married to Girts. Initially, a swollen heart was believed to be the cause. Her body was exhumed after Diane Girts’ death, but pathologists didn’t detect poison. No charges were filed in Morris’ death.