Ohio Parole Board recommends condemned killer be spared


COLUMBUS (AP) — A condemned killer set for execution next month should be spared after questions raised about discrepancies in the case and the fairness of the trial, the Ohio Parole Board ruled today.

The board recommended 6-4 in favor of clemency for death row inmate William Montgomery, who is scheduled to die April 11 for the 1986 shooting of Debra Ogle during a robbery in the Toledo area. Republican Gov. John Kasich has the final say.

The board concluded commutation of Montgomery's sentence to life without the possibility of parole is warranted.

The majority recommending clemency noted two jurors said after the trial that they had difficulty understanding the law and how to apply it, and one juror was permitted to remain on the jury despite exhibiting "troubling behavior and verbalizations" that raised a question over her fitness.

The majority also noted concern that a police report in which witnesses said they saw Ogle alive four days after Montgomery is alleged to have killed her was never presented to the defense.

A federal judge and a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Montgomery deserved a new trial based in part on the missing report. But the full 6th Circuit rejected that argument. The witnesses later said they mistook Ogle's sister for the missing woman.

"The failure to disclose that report coupled with the issues described above relative to Montgomery's jurors raise a substantial question as to whether Montgomery's death sentence was imposed through the kind of just and credible process that a punishment of this magnitude requires," the recommendation stated.

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