Monday, June 21, 2010

The 1979 Appeal

Just a comment on something I noticed in the opinion of the Court of Appeals, 9 February 1979.

The opinion reads, "The record contains overwhelming evidence of defendant's guilt of aggravated murder, including the testimony of Michael Morris, another participant, who disclosed the details of how he and defendant robbed and stabbed Henry Cordell [sic] to death. The testimony of Michael Morris and much additional corroborative evidence attains to that high degree of probative force and certainty which the law demands to support a conviction of defendant beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime of aggravated murder. Judgment of the Common Pleas Court of Lucas County is affirmed..." [italics mine]

I don't know what evidence from the trial they reviewed. It surely isn't from the same transcripts I've read. The only corroborative evidence provided was the testimony of the fellow inmate who, having been charged with a first degree felony, was suddenly able to plead to a fourth degree felony. That was it for corroborative evidence.

Further, the "overview" provided in the opinion, as it appears in LexisNexis, states, "defendant made a statement that he had committed the crime." Who prepares these things? Nowhere, ever, did Michael make a statement that he had committed the crime. What a travesty that this appears in the the record, State of Ohio, Appellee v. Michael W. Ustaszewski, Appellant, C.A. No. L-77-299.

I keep reading, I keep thinking, I keep being shocked at how badly this whole thing played out...

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