Postal Inspector Voices Doubts About Ohio Defendant's Guilt

U.S. Postal Inspector Gregory Duerr of Cleveland has called for a delay in an upcoming Ohio execution because he said official testimony given in the case of John Spirko was unreliable.  Spirko's November 15 execution date should be "delayed until the serious issues indicating innocence (are) truly resolved," Duerr noted.   In an open letter to Chief Inspector Leroy Heath, Duerr questioned the character of a key state's witness, retired postal inspector Paul Hartman. Hartman had interrogated Spirko numerous times about the 1982 kidnapping and murder of Elgin postmaster Betty Jane Mottinger.  Duerr stated that the postal service's support of Hartman's statements in the case has put the group "on the side of injustice" because Hartman had a reputation for unprofessional conduct and was forced to retire early after several inspectors complained about him.  Duerr said he was threatened by his superiors after he raised questions about Hartman's role in Spirko's conviction. Duerr wrote: "it appears an individual who did not commit the crime is going to be executed." The Ohio Attorney General's Office has received a copy of the letter and has sent it to the state parole board and to Spirko's attorneys. The parole board has set a second clemency hearing for Spirko on October 12.

(Dayton Daily News, September 15, 2005).  See Innocence.