COLUMBUS, Ohio – A condemned Ohio killer scheduled to die next month should be spared because of the possibility of other suspects and questions about when one of the victims was slain, attorneys planned to argue to the state's parole board on Thursday.
At issue before the board is the conviction and death sentence of William Montgomery for the fatal shooting of Debra Ogle in 1986 in the Toledo area. Montgomery also was convicted of murder but not sentenced to death for the shooting of Cynthia Tincher, Ogle's roommate.
Montgomery is set to die on April 11. Republican Gov. John Kasich has the final say.
Ogle and Tincher were killed March 8, 1986, with Ogle shot as part of a robbery and Tincher killed because she could identify Montgomery and his co-defendant, Glover Heard, according to the Lucas County prosecutor.
Tincher's body was found in her car on March 8. Ogle's body was found in woods on March 13.
Heard and Montgomery each blamed the other for the killings. Heard pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Montgomery in exchange for prosecutors dropping death penalty charges and a child molesting charge.
Prosecutors say evidence points to Montgomery as the killer, including his gun being used in both killings and eyewitnesses who saw him near Tincher's car where she was found dead.
Montgomery also dropped off a jacket at the dry cleaner the day of the killings, described as "putting a yellowish brown, brownish dripping mess on the floor," according to prosecutors.
The "Ohio Parole Board should conclude that executive clemency is not warranted," Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates told the board in a filing ahead of Thursday's hearing.
Montgomery's attorneys say an examination of Ogle's autopsy casts doubt on the state's version of the killings, which then calls into question the entire case against Montgomery.
Ogle's body lacked signs of decomposition natural for a body left outside for several days and the pooling of blood known as "lividity" indicated she died within six to 12 hours before she was found on nMarch 13, 1986, and not a few days earlier on March 8, according to the review by Colorado-based Independent Forensic Services.
Montgomery's attorneys also argue:
— The state withheld information at trial about other suspects, including jealous boyfriends and a "drug cartel" hit man, and evidence that Ogle was seen alive after March 8.
— A juror who recommended death for Montgomery said in an affidavit last month he would not have done so based on the new evidence, including discrepancies about Ogle's death.
— Another juror should not have been allowed to stay on the case after telling the trial judge she was a psychiatric patient who claimed to have seen a psychiatrist testifying on behalf of Montgomery in a dream 22 years earlier.
"Clemency is warranted so that the State of Ohio does not execute a man who was given an unfair trial and was convicted and sentenced on a false set of facts," defense attorney Jon Oebker told the board in a filing.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.