2018 has brought Jeffrey Wogenstahl a huge breakthrough – a federal court decision that spelled out the travesty that was his trial. As Jeff knows only too well, however, there is scope for pitfalls ahead. If he needed any proof of that, the case of Anthony Apanovitch is a stark reminder.
Apanovitch was sentenced to death in Cuyahoga County Court, Ohio in 1985. He spent 30 years on death row for a crime which he always maintained he did not commit. On one occasion he suffered the huge stress of coming within days of execution.
In 2015 a Cuyahoga County judge decided that Apanovitch was entitled to a new trial for murder, following a DNA test that excluded him as the rapist in his case. The judge even agreed to set bond, with the result that Apanovitch was able to leave death row and go to live at home with his family while awaiting his new trial.
What must have been his shock and horror, then, to find himself being taken back to death row earlier this month? And how must his family members have felt to watch him being unceremoniously removed from them?
It was an Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling that caused the disruption: it stated that the trial court had lacked jurisdiction to consider his appeal. The case has been returned to the trial court for “further proceedings”.
Apanovitch spent a few days on death row before being taken to a county prison, to ponder his uncertain future.
Jeff’s case is now being considered by his trial court. And, despite the clear language in the federal court decision that sent it there, there could be many ups and downs ahead.
We wish Jeff a happy Christmas; and a 2019 which leads him, without setbacks, closer to getting the justice that he deserves.