Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ohio: Commutation of Sentence

The Governor of Ohio (Ted Strickland-D) has commuted the sentence of 61-year old John Spirko to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Governor said the execution (scheduled for the 24th of this month) would have been "inappropriate" given the fact that there was "slim residual doubt" as to Spirko's guilt. Convicted of the kidnapping and murder of Betty Jane Mottinger (a postal worker) almost 30 years ago, Strickland received seven reprieves as a result of DNA testing (a state record). The Ohio Parole Board twice recommended against clemency. Each time the vote of the Board was unanimous. In the past, Spirko's lawyers (Washington, D.C.-based Tom Hill and Alvin Dunn) have requested a pardon, a conditional pardon or a commutation of sentence to time served. As they put it, ''There can be no joy in the commutation of an innocent man's sentence to life without parole." One resident said, "A lot of people in the area don’t think he did it. He was just an easy mark." Spirko had just gotten out of prison for killing a 72-year old woman during a robbery and was easily convictable. See story reported in the Toledo Blade (here), the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (here), the Associated Press (here),the Cincinnati Enquirer (here),and the Cleveland Plain Dealer (here).

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