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Published: Saturday, 10/1/2005

Spirko lawyers seek Taft's help before 2nd clemency hearing


COLUMBUS - Lawyers for a death-row inmate convicted of killing a northwest Ohio postmaster in 1982 have asked Gov. Bob Taft for help before their client's second clemency hearing in two weeks.

In a letter sent Thursday, John Spirko's lawyers asked Mr. Taft to request any documents from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service that involve an investigation into the behavior of former postal inspector Paul Hartman, the state's lead investigator and a star witness in the Spirko case.

Taft spokesman Mark Rickel said the governor's office was reviewing the request.

Spirko's lawyers also are seeking an interview with Gregory Duerr, a current postal inspector who wrote in a letter that he witnessed conduct by Mr. Hartman "bordering on criminal." Mr. Duerr wrote that more than a dozen colleagues filed complaints about Mr. Hartman in the late 1990s.

Spirko, 59, is scheduled to be executed in November for the murder of Betty Jane Mottinger, 48, who was the postmaster in Elgin.

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