Saturday, October 05, 2002

Police: Offering beer to killer OK

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Relatives of the former Reading mayor who was murdered in April met Friday with police to find out if investigators made a mistake that allowed the killer to escape a death sentence.

        “I understand that the police were doing their best at the time and may have got caught up in the emotion of getting all the evidence they needed in order to get an aggravated murder charge. But, again, I guess mistakes were made no matter what,” said John George, a son-in-law of former Mayor Frank Carnevale and his ex-wife Rita Bushman.

        Police obtained a confession from their main suspect, Robert Cordell, 42, by enticing him with an open beer. He was never actually allowed to drink the beer, said Reading Police Lt. Scott Snow.

        A defense lawyer for Mr. Cordell disagreed, the Associated Press reported.

        “I heard the tapes and, in my opinion, they gave him the beer,” Will Welsh said. “It was psychological. He was an alcoholic.”

        Mr. Cordell pleaded guilty Tuesday to strangling his former sister-in-law, Kathleen Cordell, 40, with whom he lived, and going next door to fatally shoot Mr. Carnevale, 72, and Ms. Bushman, in their home. He also pleaded guilty to aggravated arson and aggravated robbery.

        Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said he spoke with the family himself and let them know there were “issues in the case that could present problems” but if they had wanted to proceed to trial prosecutors would have.

        With the family's permission, prosecutors agreed to drop the capital death classification against Mr. Cordell, in favor of 81 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 63 years.

        The beer was “a prop, a ploy,” Lt. Snow said. “We as police officers are allowed to be deceptive to people as long as we don't promise them things that could benefit their cases - like leniency. ... But I can lie about things that would not have benefited him, like the beer.”


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