I was convicted of three murders during the eleven-day rebellion at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio in April 1993. When I tell people I was not guilty of any of them, they say: "But weren't you at SOCF because you were already found to be guilty of a murder"?
So let me begin with that earlier conviction.
In the city of Bellefontaine, Ohio,in October of 1979, the manager of Rinks Department store was murdered. It would appear that this may have been an armed robbery gone bad. There is more than one theory as to what really happened in this case.
This case went unsolved for nearly three (3) years. Then in mid to late 1982 some inmates wanted to cut a deal to get out of the trouble they were in.
In the summer of 1982 a good snitching inmate doing time in London Ohio Correctional Institution called the Bellefontaine authorities and told them he had information concerning the murder that happened in their town in 1979.
The price for this information would be his freedom, which he gained. Plus other perks.
The next thing that happened, in October 1982 I was indicted for this robbery/murder.
There was no physical evidence whatsoever to link me to this crime.
Mr. Prosecutor used this inmate, one that was doing 37 to
130 years in Lucasville, Ohio's maximum security prison, and his wife to convict me.
Both of these people were indicted for this murder and several other crimes, but they cut a deal.
They received immunity for all their crimes for testifying against me. The following questions and answers when Mr. Rogers testified against me are reported on page 1366 of the transcript:
Q. What would you do to keep from going to jail? Would you lie under oath? A. To --
Q. To prevent yourself from being convicted, punished, going to prison, would you lie under oath?
A. I certainly would. I have before.
Of course this is only a very short version of the deals,
the injustice in my original conviction. My case is by no means unique or rare. The system is full of cases like mine.
To sum it up, I started out doing a life sentence, convicted of murder on the word of two (2) lying snitches!
A good, honest review of the record of case number 83-CR-3, Logan County, Ohio would prove I am telling the truth!
In my opinion these convictions should not be able to stand.
Inmate testimony alone put me on Death Row.
These convictions were obtained by the use of bribery and intimidation of the inmate witnesses.
A review of the record will prove this.
Inmate Lavelle turned state's evidence and testified against other convicts. Mr. Prosecutor told Lavelle, "You are either going to be my witness, or I'm going to try to kill you" (Transcript, p. 4047)
How can this type of testimony be enough to convict anybody?
The prosecutor also told the jury that if I had agreed to snitch, I would have been the witness and Lavelle would have been the defendant.
These were his words:
Mr.Skatzes had his opportunity and he chose not to take it. Had Mr. Skatzes taken it, they're right. Mr.Skatzes, assuming he would tell us the truth, would be up there on the witness stand testifying and Mr.Lavelle could be sitting over there. I make no apologies for that.
Transcript, p. 5751. [Exhibit C]
Ohio Revised Code 2923.03(D) states in part that the "admitted or claimed complicity of a witness may affect his credibility and make his testimony subject to grave suspicion, and require that it be weighed with great caution."
One would think the above statement makes good common sense, but that is not so.
When an inmate testifies for Mr.Prosecutor his word becomes the gospel.
Think about it: Should snitch testimony, uncorroborated by any physical evidence, be strong enough to send a person to his death?
Even before I was indicted for the murder of Earl Elder, statements were made as to who really murdered this man.
The powers that be very well know I had nothing to do with the murder of Earl Elder, but since I would not snitch, I got charged and convicted, and sentenced to death.
One of the inmates who was involved in the Elder murder came to my trial and testified against me. This man is walking the streets free now.
Another inmate who was involved in the Elder murder was man enough to step up and confess to his crime. He got a life sentence this past June 6, 2006.
Still I sit on Death Row as if this confession never took place.
I was also tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the alleged murder of inmate David Sommers. The cause of death, according to the coroner, was one (1) massive blow to the head.
In my trial I was the one who dealt the one massive blow that killed Mr. Sommers.
In another convict's trial for the murder of Mr. Sommers, the prosecutor told the jury that he was the one who dealt that fatal blow.
The State's own evidence proves that I am not responsible for the murder of Mr.Sommers.
There is just so much to all this. I don't want to go overboard in trying to explain everything. All I can ask is that you please read about this case.
If you feel the evidence is there to convict and sentence me to death, so be it.
On the other hand, if you believe I am innocent, please help me.
These courts will not do their job unless they are made to do so.
People power, you getting behind me and making some noise, is the only way justice will be served.
I need the State of Ohio to look at my case with honesty and justice.
Please help me to achieve this.
With utmost Respect