Kasich spares life of man who killed woman in Ohio robbery
COLUMBUS (AP) — Gov. John Kasich today spared a condemned killer who was set to die April 11 for fatally shooting a woman more than three decades ago during a robbery after questions were raised about discrepancies in the case and the fairness of the trial.
The Republican governor's release said his decision followed the report and recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board, which voted 6-4 on March 16 in favor of clemency for death row inmate William Montgomery. Kasich had no additional comment, his spokesman Jon Keeling said.
Montgomery was sentenced to die for the 1986 shooting of Debra Ogle during a robbery in the Toledo area. In its ruling, the parole board concluded that commuting Montgomery's sentence to life without the possibility of parole was warranted, which is what Kasich did.
Atty. Jon Oebker, who represents Montgomery, said they are grateful to the governor for his consideration and decision to issue a commutation.
"We will continue to pursue a new and fair trial for Mr. Montgomery in the courts, as justice requires," Oebker said.
Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The board majority noted two jurors said after the trial they had difficulty understanding the law, and one juror was permitted to remain on the jury despite exhibiting "troubling behavior and verbalizations" that raised questions over fitness.
The majority also cited concerns 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.