A recent article about the current state of Ohio’s death penalty touches on the case of Jeffrey Wogenstahl. It allows us to glimpse the reaction of the lead prosecutor at Jeff’s trial, Joe Deters, to Jeff’s ongoing claim of innocence.
Deters’ response is superficial. He describes the claims as “total crap” and adds,
“I know for certain Jeffrey Wogenstahl killed Amber Garrett.”
Really? Was he there?
Deters disregards the highly significant evidence that was concealed in police files until 2016. He fails to consider that this evidence, plus faulty hair analysis, caused the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to declare it likely that:
“[Jeff] can establish by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable factfinder would have found him guilty.”
Deters certainly does not reveal that Jeff’s attorneys were forced to take legal action in order to secure the potentially exculpatory evidence from police files. And he does not divulge that at the trial his team of prosecutors committed misconduct described by a federal judge as ‘plain and plentiful’ and ‘wholly improper’.
It is thus hard to swallow Deters’ assertion that he seeks the death penalty only for the worst of the worst cases, where there is no question of guilt. In Jeff’s case several jurors, as well as the Sixth Circuit Court, have expressed doubts about the safety of his conviction; but for Deters this is of no consequence.
We are thankful that the Sixth Circuit Court has considered all the evidence. We agree with its conclusion,
“[Jeff] has shown that his claims “warrant a fuller exploration in the district court.”*
We trust the district court, unlike Joe Deters, will heed the Sixth Circuit Court’s decision and examine all the evidence that is now available. Only a complete evaluation can bring justice at last.