Wednesday, March 01, 2000

Doan loses appeal

Verdict upheld in murder of girlfriend

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN — An appeals court has upheld the conviction of Vincent Doan for kidnapping and killing his girlfriend, Carrie Culberson.

        In a case that attracted national attention, a Clinton County Common Pleas Court jury convicted Mr. Doan in 1997 of aggravated murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

        Ms. Culberson, 22, of Blanchester, disappeared in August 1996, and Mr. Doan was the last person seen with her. Her body was never found.

        Mr. Doan's attorneys contended that he deserved a new trial, saying common pleas court made 11 errors.

        But all three 12th District Court of Appeals judges who reviewed the case ruled this week that Mr. Doan received a fair trial and that the evidence supported his conviction.

        “We're all very happy,” said Ms. Culberson's mother, Debbie Culberson. “I just thank God it turned out the way that it did.”

        Mr. Doan's attorneys said they will appeal the ruling to the Ohio Supreme Court.

        “Obviously I'm very disappointed by that decision,” said Kort Gatterdam, a public defender representing Mr. Doan in the appeal. “We're in this for the duration. We're going to go as far as we have to go to get Mr. Doan a new trial.”

        Ms. Culberson and Mr. Doan had a tempestuous relationship, according to several witnesses who testified in the trial. Mr. Doan beat her on several occasions, they said.

        His brother, Tracy Baker, is serving an eight-year prison sentence for helping cover up the crime. He has appealed his conviction to the 12th District Court of Appeals, but the court hasn't ruled yet.

        Lori Baker, who was living with her ex-husband, Tracy Baker, testified that Mr. Doan came to their house in the early morning hours of Aug. 29 covered with blood and wearing only a pair of jeans.

        She said Mr. Doan and Mr. Baker left the house with garbage bags and a gun.

        Priscilla Doan, Vincent Doan's mother, said she doesn't understand the basis for the appeals court decision.

        “There's no evidence, nothing,” she said. “Everything was hearsay. Hopefully, when we go to the next level, it'll turn out differently. We know our boys are innocent.”


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