The prosecution in Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s case advanced the theory that the victim, Amber Garrett, was snatched hastily from her bed as she slept. However, it appears that to convince the jurors of this theory, prosecutors suppressed significant evidence.* This evidence remained hidden until 2016, when the State of Ohio was forced to hand over a previously suppressed police file.
When Amber Garrett was reported missing, her glasses were still in the family apartment. At Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s trial, Peggy Garret testified that her daughter could hardly see without them. The prosecution built on this, declaring
“[S]he was almost blind without her glasses… [S]omeone took her out of that house… they removed her without letting her… get her glasses that she needed in order to see.”
In fact, several people informed law enforcement officers that Amber could manage without her glasses. These reports contradicted and impeached both Peggy’s testimony and the prosecution’s argument that Amber’s lack of glasses indicated that someone had snatched her from her bed. But neither the defense nor the jurors were shown these reports; they were suppressed.
Similarly, the jurors were misled about Amber’s clothing. The prosecution told them:
“…Amber’s body was found out in Bright, Indiana still wearing these panties and these clothes that she had worn in the bed on the evening of Saturday, November 23rd.”
This was not true. The suppressed police file shows that Peggy told investigating officers that Amber was wearing different clothes from those she wore to bed when her body was found:
“[E]ven the nightshirt she slept in was still there [in the house].”
Amber was wearing a red dress when she was murdered, not the nightshirt she had slept in. The dress had been lent to her to wear to church on Sundays.
If evidence about Amber’s glasses and clothing had not been suppressed, the jury would surely have questioned the State’s version of events.
The suppression of this evidence underlines once again how severely Jeff’s trial was tainted. We hope it is not long before a court agrees.
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