Not Snatched from her Bed

The prosecutor at Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s trial used his closing argument to impress on the jury that the victim, Amber Garrett, was grabbed from her bed in the middle of the night:
“[W]e know from the evidence that Amber Garrett was in bed early the morning of November 24th, that someone…  removed her without letting her get dressed… 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.… How about a person who would return to the Garrett household, pick up a half naked Amber Garrett and get her out into his car?” (emphasis added)[i]

As far back as 1996 the Ohio Supreme Court noted:
“[T]he prosecutor’s final closing argument was riddled with improper comments regarding the nature and circumstances of the offense …”
but it allowed Jeff’s conviction to stand.[ii]
 
What no court knew, however, was that the prosecution had suppressed evidence that contradicted its version of events. Under duress, the prosecution finally supplied documents in 2016 showing that when Amber’s body was discovered she was not wearing the night clothes that she dressed in for bed on the Saturday night.[iii] She was, in fact, wearing a red dress that had been given to her[iv] (in 2014 Amber’s friend confirmed that this had been Amber’s dress for church).[v]

The prosecutor also made much of the fact that Amber’s glasses had been left behind; but the state withheld several documents that showed she could manage well without her glasses.

The suppression of these documents is highly significant. If the jurors had learnt that the victim had changed from her night clothes into a dress, and had not been helpless without her glasses, some might have concluded that she was not snatched from her bed in the night. And the outcome of the trial could have been different.

We sincerely hope that Jeff will soon be granted a new trial, where his jurors can see all of the evidence. Justice demands no less.

[i] See State of Ohio v. Jeffrey A. Wogenstahl, 2016-0423, Appellant Jeffrey A. Wogenstahl’s Motion to Remand Case to the Trial Court, filed October 7, 2016. Page 42.
[ii] See The State of Ohio, Appellee, v. Wogenstahl, Appellant, 95-42. Supreme Court of Ohio. Decided  March 6, 1996. Page 9. Web, 26 January, 2015.
[iii] Amber’s mother, Peggy Garrett, told an investigating officer that Amber “had the Loretta Lynn T-shirt on”. See Volume 2 of Appendix to Appellant Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s Motion to Remand Case to the Trial Court, Case No. 2016-0423. Filed in the Supreme Court of Ohio, October 7, 2016. Exhibit 60 (Page 59 of pdf).
Peggy Garrett also told Patrolman Lindsey “that even the nightshirt she slept in was still there [in the house].” See Volume 2 of Appendix to Appellant Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s Motion to Remand Case to the Trial Court, Case No. 2016-0423. Filed in the Supreme Court of Ohio, October 7, 2016. (Exhibit 61, (page 65 of pdf).
[iv] See Volume 2 of Appendix to Appellant Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s Motion to Remand Case to the Trial Court, Case No. 2016-0423. Filed in the Supreme Court of Ohio, October 7, 2016. Exhibits 62 (page 67 of pdf) and 63 (page 68 of pdf).
[v] See Volume 2 of Appendix to Appellant Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s Motion to Remand Case to the Trial Court, Case No. 2016-0423. Filed in the Supreme Court of Ohio, October 7, 2016. Exhibit 43, page 35 of pdf.

 

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