Wednesday, March 07, 2001

Court turns down Clinton man's death row appeal

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN — A court has turned down the latest appeal of a Clinton County man on death Row.

        In a unanimous decision released this week, the 12th District Court of Appeals in Middletown said the Clinton County Common Pleas Court acted properly last year when it denied James R. Goff's petition for post-conviction relief.

        Mr. Goff, 26, was convicted in the 1994 slaying of Myrtle Rutledge, an 88-year-old Bible school teacher. She had been stabbed 12 times, sexually molested and left nude in her Wilmington-area farmhouse.

        In 1997, the appeals court upheld Mr. Goff's death sentence; and the Ohio and U.S. supreme courts refused to reconsider. Mr. Goff filed another appeal, saying his due-process rights were violated in his 1995 trial.

        He claimed his lawyer failed to inform him of a plea-bargain offer, jurors weren't adequately instructed about their role in sentencing and he wasn't properly informed about a witness being offered a more lenient sentence in exchange for his testimony.

        The appellate court ruled that Mr. Goff failed to support those claims, or his contention that the lower court that dismissed those claims acted improperly.


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