Many continue to question Spirko conviction
Efforts to spare the life of condemned killer John Spirko continue. Attorneys for Spirko have filed suit asking for additional DNA testing.
Spirko is slated to die November 15th for the murder of Van Wert County postmaster Betty Jane Mottinger.
Wednesday supporters of Spirko gathered at Ohio State University and called on Governor Taft to stop the execution.
The key speakers at OSU's Law School were leaders from Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions. The center has successfully helped overturn the convictions of several death row inmates in Illinois, prompting the state to suspend its use of the death penalty. The center's legal director, law professor Steven Drizen says they are very concerned Ohio is about to execute an innocent man.
We have never seen a case with so little evidence guilt and so much evidence that suggests that this crime needs to continue to be investigated, he said.
Spirko was convicted of the 1982 murder of rural Ohio postmaster Betty Jane Mottinger. Police and prosecutors say Spirko admitted to killing her and knew details about the crime only the killer would know.
But many question Spirko's conviction. The Ohio Supreme Court, a Federal Appeals court and the Ohio Parole Board, while upholding the conviction and death sentence, were split on the issue.
Former FBI director William Sessions urges Governor Taft to overturn the conviction, as do three other retired federal judges.
Attorneys for Spirko claim he lied to investigators - including when he told them he killed Mottinger. They say police told Spirko the hidden details of the crime.
An investigator from a neighboring county prosecutor's office was at the OSU forum. Wyandot County investigator William Latham claims to have found another credible suspect. Latham says Mottinger's family needs to know the right man is being punished for the crime.
It's not just about John, the family needs to know the truth about what happened to Betty, Latham said.
But prosecutors remain convinced that Spirko is guilty. Kim Norris speaks for Attorney General Jim Petro
For the past 21 years, this case has been reviewed by many courts but the bottom line is they have all made the same conclusion that John Spirko was justly convicted and sentenced, Norris said.
Supporters are hopeful that an appeals court will step in during the next two weeks. The Center on Wrongful Convictions'Steven Drizin also hopes Governor Taft delays or stops Spirko's execution.
I think there is a growing groundswell of opposition to this execution and I don't think Governor Taft wants his legacy to be executing a man who very well might be innocent, Drizen said.
Governor Taft continues to consider the case.