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Published: Friday, 12/15/2006

Conviction reversed, inmate seeks release

BLADE STAFF

A Toledo man whose conviction for involuntary manslaughter was overturned by the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals is now asking the same court to release him from prison.

An attorney for Elmore Watson, Jr., filed a motion for release last week with the court.

Mr. Watson, 53, who is imprisoned in the North Central Correctional Institution near Cleveland, has served more than half of a four-year sentence.

A three-judge panel of the appellate court reversed the June, 2004, conviction of Mr. Watson in the beating death of Debra Stout, who was found dead in a Northwood motel room.

They said that Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Cook couldn't conclude from trial testimony that the purported beating Mr. Watson inflicted on his girlfriend in an alley outside an East Toledo bar was the proximate cause of her death.

Attorney Deborah Kovac Rump, who represents Mr. Watson in the appeal, said yesterday that the ruling acquits her client of wrongdoing and he cannot be tried again for Ms. Stout's death.

"Prosecutors didn't prove their case. If you can't prove your case, then you should move on," she said. A request from Lucas County prosecutors asking the appellate court to reconsider the decision was rejected.

Within a week of the appellate court's Nov. 17 decision, Lorin Zaner, Mr. Watson's defense attorney in the trial, submitted a motion to Judge Cook asking that the sentence be vacated.

Prosecutors failed to respond to Mr. Zaner's request.

John Weglian, chief of special units division of the prosecutor's office, said an appeal is being prepared to present to the Ohio Supreme Court.

However, appeals to the Supreme Court are discretionary, and Ms. Rump said she believes it is "extremely unlikely'' the court would accept the prosecutor's request.



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