When Jeffrey Wogenstahl became a suspect in the murder of Amber Garrett his apartment was searched, and testing was performed on various blood traces found there: the only confirmed human blood did not match the blood of the victim. Testing failed to determine whether other blood stains were of animal or human origin.
Jeff believed that some blood could have originated from his cat. He testified that in the week before the victim was reported missing his cat jumped from the seat of the toilet in his bathroom towards the top of the shower curtain, hitting its mouth on the side of the tub. As a result it bled from its mouth. Jeff stated that he wiped blood off the side of the tub and the toilet.
In closing argument, the prosecution ridiculed Jeff’s testimony about the cat and the injury to its mouth:
“Have you ever heard of a cat that falls with such force that it knocks itself unconscious and knocks out a tooth? That story is absolutely ridiculous.”
The prosecution later referred to the animal dismissively as “the psychopathic cat”.
However, the jury was unaware that the State had suppressed a report that would have supported Jeff’s testimony and rebutted the stance of the prosecution. The report† showed that the cat did, indeed, have a chipped tooth. It also stated that a blood sample taken from the cat was delivered to Hamilton County Coroner’s Office; but comment on this blood sample was conspicuously absent from both the Coroner’s Office’s Official Crime Laboratory Report,‡ and from the Serological Research Institute’s report.§
The suppression of this report is of great significance. If the jurors had heard evidence that Jeff was telling the truth about his cat’s accident, some might have been more inclined to believe the rest of Jeff’s testimony. And some may have realized that the state itself was dissembling and untrustworthy. The outcome of the trial could thus have been different.
Jeff’s case is littered with similar instances of suppressed information, any one of which could have altered the jury’s verdict. Jeff has not received justice. He deserves a new trial.