Trumbull prosecutor keeps promise, asks parole board let Claudia Hoerig go free by 2046
By Ed Runyan
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins has kept his promise to Brazil, writing a letter to the Ohio Parole Board asking that it not keep a convicted murderer in prison past 2046.
Claudia Hoerig was sentenced to 28 years to life in prison in February after being convicted at trial of the 2007 murder of her husband, Air Force Maj. Karl Hoerig, in their Newton Falls home. She fled to her native Brazil afterward and remained there until Brazil extradited her to Ohio in 2018.
“As part of the extradition proceedings, Brazil requested specific assurances from the United States prior to her return,” the letter says. “As prosecuting attorney, I approved these assurances which were given to the country of Brazil pursuant to the extradition treaty between the United States and Brazil.”
The assurances were that Claudia would not face the possibility of the death penalty, that she would be given credit for the nearly two years she spent in a Brazilian prison before she was returned to Ohio, that Watkins would seek a sentence that made her eligible for parole in 30 years or less and support her parole being granted in 30 years or less.
Judge Andrew Logan followed the prosecutor’s recommendation and gave Claudia a sentence that would allow her to be released after 30 years.
“Therefore, as Trumbull County prosecutor, I fully support Claudia Hoerig’s release on parole upon serving 30 full years in prison with credit given to her for time served in jail from April 20, 2016,” Watkins’ letter says.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs also recently asked Watkins to follow up with a copy of his letter to the parole board regarding Hoerig’s sentence “to have it finalized and on the record,” Watkins said.
“Further, as currently Ohio’s longest serving elected prosecuting attorney, it is a virtual certainty that I will not be serving the citizens of Trumbull County as prosecutor in 2044 when Claudia Hoerig becomes first eligible for parole,” Watkins said.
“Because of the unique circumstances of this case, I am now writing this letter to the board early with my recommendation so it is on record and legally binding on all my successors in office.”
Though Watkins stated in a sentencing memorandum to Judge Logan before sentencing that he wanted the judge to sentence Claudia to no more than 30 years in prison, he knew he could not promise that the judge or Ohio Parole Board would “in fact release her” after 30 years “since under the law of Ohio, only the board can make such decisions.”
Watkins’ letter does not address the reason for the 30-year limit, but Brazilian law does not allow for a sentence longer than 30 years.