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Published: Saturday, 5/13/2006

Toledoan denied new slaying trial

Babos Babos

For the second time in about six months, Eric Babos appeared in a Lucas County Common Pleas courtroom hoping to hear that he has been granted a new trial.

For the second time, he was taken to prison after Judge Gary Cook denied the motion.

Babos, who was convicted last year of killing his Sylvania Township employer, was led away in chains yesterday while his disappointed family remained in the courtroom. His attorney, Jerome Phillips, said the next step will be in Ohio's 6th District Court of Appeals.

Babos, 42, of Toledo, was sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of John Riebe.

"I'm just offended that we are sitting here in 2006 with Mr. Babos in prison since 2004 and we can't have a fair trial in this case," Mr. Phillips argued before the judge.

The defense filed a motion in March seeking a new trial, saying that Sylvania Township police were aware that a drug dealer to whom the victim owed money admitted to a man that he shot Mr. Riebe.

Mr. Phillips also accused township police of misconduct, claiming that they withheld that information and that it could have helped his client at trial.

As part of the motion, the defense included a sworn statement from Vincent Williams, who said he had told police about the drug dealer in the weeks after the murder.

The drug dealer who Mr. Williams pointed to was brought in to testify in the case. Valynn Rodgers, who is serving one year and five months in Southeastern Correctional Institution for receiving stolen property, invoked his 5th Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.

Judge Cook deliberated for about 30 minutes before ruling that not all the standards were met to grant a new trial, namely that the new evidence created a "reasonable probability" that the trial would have ended differently.

In particular, he said the record did not reflect that Sylvania Township police knew about Mr. Williams' specific allegations prior to the trial.

Mr. Riebe's daughters, Nicole and Jamie, declined comment after the hearing.

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