Jeffrey Wogenstahl has appealed an unfavorable Ohio Supreme Court ruling.* Last month five of the judges rejected his claim that Ohio lacked jurisdiction to try him for murder; but Chief Justice O’Connor wrote a compelling dissent in his support (see more here).
In his appeal, Jeff claims the majority judges erred in assuming that it is his responsibility to prove that the murder occurred in Indiana.” He notes that, on the contrary, it is the State’s duty to establish that Ohio had jurisdiction to try him for murder.
Jeff also criticizes the majority judges for their improper speculation about what could have happened at the time of the murder: they should have limited themselves to examining the evidence.
Jeff agrees with Chief Justice O’Connor that, according to the State’s theory at trial, the murder occurred in Indiana:
“The State presented and argued at trial facts that can only establish one scenario—Amber was alive when she was taken from her house in Ohio, and she was murdered in Indiana, in a place within close proximity to where her body was later discovered.”
Jeff notes that his trial counsel should have raised the issue of jurisdiction, and could be judged ineffective for having failed to do so.
Jeff contemplates the possibility that the court’s ruling be allowed to stand, even though this would have improperly shifted the burden of proof to himself to “establish that the murder occurred in Indiana”. He argues that, particularly if the court’s ruling does stand, he should be allowed to introduce additional information to demonstrate that the majority judges’ theories are unsupported by the facts (and to show how trial counsel could have rebutted their theories).
Jeff lists the additional, highly pertinent, information which he wishes to present (which he attaches as exhibits in a separate motion):
Exhibit 1 (affidavit of Carl J. Schmidt, M.D, M.P.H. (finding that “to a reasonable degree of medical certainty . . . the victim in this case was killed outside of the car seen in the pictured. . . . ”);
Exhibit 2 (affidavit of Gary A. Rini, M.F.S. (the State’s contention that the victim was murdered elsewhere, or in Wogenstahl’s car, which was then used to transport the victim to the scene, is not supported by the physical evidence in the car, at the scene or on the victim.”)
Exhibit 3 (two affidavits of Bruce Wheeler that would challenge his credibility by admitting that he received consideration for his testimony in Wogenstahl’s case).
We trust the Ohio Supreme Court will reconsider its arguments, and find in Jeff’s favor. He should have a new trial.