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Man who infected woman with HIV sentenced to 8 years in prison

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    Ronald Murdock

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Ron J. Murdock first learned he was HIV-positive in 2004. On Wednesday, the Toledo man was sentenced to eight years in prison for failing to tell his late girlfriend of his status.

Kimberly Klempner, 51, died from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, last year.

“No one deserved to give my mother her death sentence. No one,” Joshua Klempner told the court in a statement read by his mother's sister, Michele Dail. “The defendant did just that. A selfish act that could have been avoided if the defendant would have just spoke up and told the truth about the disease.”

Murdock, 52, of the 3200 block of Craigmoor Avenue had been indicted for murder but pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter. Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Stacy Cook found him guilty and immediately sentenced him to prison.

Murdock, who faced up to 11 years in prison, apologized to Ms. Klempner's family.

“Me and Kim had a great friendship,” he said. “I took her everywhere. I was her transportation. ... I apologize if I harmed her, did anything to her. I cared about Kim a whole lot.”

Judge Cook asked Murdock if he informed his wife that he was HIV-positive. He said that he had but admitted he did not tell Ms. Klempner.

The judge said Ms. Klempner's death “was avoidable had disclosure been given. It would have been her choice then. If she chose to still engage in a relationship, it would have been done with full knowledge.”

Drew Wood, an assistant county prosecutor, told the court Murdock and Ms. Klempner had engaged in a sexual relationship between June 1, 2011, and Oct. 1, 2016. She learned she was HIV-positive in August, 2016, and died Feb. 5, 2017.

Before her death, Ms. Klempner told Toledo Police detective Diana Trevino that when she told Murdock about her test results, “The defendant did not seem to react in any significant way. She described it as the defendant acting as if she had told him that she had a cold,” Mr. Wood said.

Murdock is believed to be the first person prosecuted in Lucas County for murder under such circumstances.

Defense attorney James Popil pointed out that Ohio law is silent about all other sexually transmitted diseases.

“Ohio's HIV laws automatically treat HIV-positive individuals like they are criminals,” he said. “It's currently the only disease in Ohio that is treated like a weapon.”

Still, he pointed to a recent Ohio Supreme Court ruling in a related case that upheld the idea that an HIV-positive individual who infects a sexual partner without disclosing his or her status may be prosecuted.

Mr. Popil asked for a three-year sentence in part because Murdock did not have a serious criminal record and because the victim continued to engage in a relationship with Murdock even after she learned he had infected her.

He said Murdock intends to appeal.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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