A 1986 police report that recently convinced a federal judge in Cleveland to order a retrial for convicted killer William T. Montgomery likely contained erroneous information, authorities said.
Lucas County prosecutors and the Ohio Attorney General s Office now plan to ask U.S. District Court Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr., to reconsider his decision.
On death row since 1986, Montgomery has filed appeals in state and federal courts over his conviction in the deaths of two South Toledo roommates.
He was found guilty of the aggravated murder and aggravated robbery of Debra Ogle, 20, and the murder of Cynthia Tincher, 19.
On March 31, Judge Oliver granted Montgomery a new trial because a police report that was material to the outcome of the trial was not provided to his defense team during his trial.
Yesterday, Dean Mandros, a county assistant prosecutor and head of the office s cold case unit, said they are urging the attorney general to file a motion to reconsider. The motion must be filed by Friday.
The first thing is to try to get the original judge to reconsider his decision, he said. We are trying to see if there is any new information that would be helpful.
The Lucas County Cold Case Task Force is investigating a report filed 21 years ago with the Toledo Police Department that indicated Ms. Ogle was seen four days after the day of her March 8, 1986, death.
In his opinion, Judge Oliver wrote that it was this report that could have undermined the state s case against Montgomery. Judge Oliver yesterday declined to comment on his ruling.
After news of the opinion was made public, investigators were contacted by a woman who was with the man who made that report, Toledo police Sgt. Steve Forrester said.
Nancy Mueller told police yesterday that soon after making the 1986 report, they realized it was Ms. Ogle s younger sister that they had seen on March 12.
Ms. Ogle s sister, Diana Gonzalez, confirmed that information.
Debbie s sister was contacted and stated she was in the parking lot and looking for her sister at that time and on that day, Sergeant Forrester said.
He added that Ms. Mueller believed she had filed a follow-up report with police more than two decades ago, but that has not been confirmed.
Attorney Richard Kerger said that it is not whether the information is accurate that is the basis for the reversal, but the fact that it was withheld.
Mr. Kerger filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in June, 2000, listing 48 general areas of constitutional violations, including the withholding of the police report.
He said the judge felt the trial was unfair because all the information was not provided. He added that someone now saying the information was wrong is subject to question.
Now we re trying to go back 20 years later and determine what people saw, he said. The defense should have had [the report] and been able to assess whether it was important or not.
On March 8, 1986, Toledo police found the body of Ms. Tincher in her car near Angola and Wenz roads. She had been shot in the head at close range.
Four days later, Montgomery directed police to Ms. Ogle s body, which was in a brushy area in the 4700 block of Hill Avenue.
Montgomery and Glover Heard, Jr., were arrested and charged in the murders.
Heard, 45, who testified against Montgomery in an agreement with prosecutors, pleaded guilty to murder as an accomplice in the death of Ms. Tincher. He is serving 15 years to life in the North Central Correctional Institution in Marion.
Montgomery was given the death penalty for the shooting death of Ms. Ogle and life in prison for the murder of Ms. Tincher. He is on death row at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown.
The families of the two victims were stunned to hear of the judge s decision.
Ms. Ogle s mother, Jane, said it didn t make sense that a coroner could rule on the day of her daughter s death, but that a federal judge would choose a report that said she was seen four days later as the basis for a retrial.
Patricia Keith, Ms. Tincher s mother, expressed similar feelings of surprise and grief.
We re living this all over again. He wants to drag this on so he can live a little bit longer, she said. He didn t care about these ladies when he shot them in the head, leaving one in a field and the other in an empty car. This is crazy to me, period.