Exculpatory Evidence Suppressed

On October 25, 2005, Derrick Jamison left Ohio’s death row; exactly 20 years before that he was sentenced to death in Hamilton County, Ohio. The courts had recognized that the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office unfairly suppressed exculpatory information about his case.

Jamison is one of three death sentenced men who were granted new trials by the courts for the same reason: that the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office withheld significant exculpatory evidence.[i]

Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s case is similar. At the time of his and the other men’s indictment and trials, law enforcement officers were not required to give the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office all the records from crime investigations. The Cincinnati Police Department would pass to the Prosecutor’s Office only portions of their files for homicide cases – the portions deemed relevant to obtaining a conviction. Prosecutors, moreover, were not encouraged to search for exculpatory evidence: they were not even trained to identify it.

A Sixth Circuit Court has now recognized that in Jeff’s case, as in the other men’s, exculpatory evidence was withheld:
 “[T]he State suppressed the material in the original police file and made inaccurate statements misrepresenting the hair analysis.”
and that:

“Wogenstahl has made a prima facie showing that he can establish by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable factfinder would have found him guilty.”

Jeff must now wait patiently yet again: it is for a lower court to decide whether to reflect the Sixth Circuit Court’s clear message by awarding him a new trial. We hope his wait is short. We hope that, as Derrick Jamison did 13 years ago, Jeff will soon leave Ohio’s death row for good.

[i] State of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. Jeffrey Wogenstahl, Defendant-Appellant.  Case No. 2016-0423. Appellant Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s Motion to Remand Case to the Trial Court, filed in the Supreme Court of Ohio, October 7, 2016, pages 10 – 14.

 

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