John Wesley Frazier
[Abbreviated version of the Full Story]

John was an electrician and an amateur gunsmith. He bought old guns and restored them as a hobby. He customized guns by carving Cherokee signs in the stocks, or etching the barrel, before he blued them. He made good money when he finished and sold a gun he had customized.  

Returning home around the 7th of February 1993, John went out partying with friends. They went to the Eagles and hit a couple of other bars. John ran into a woman named Melissa McCoy, who he had not seen in a couple of years. They hooked up and started running around together. Melissa had skipped out on her parole and wanted to go back to Florida with him when John left. She had been avoiding arrest for around six months by staying with different people and not working.

On the evening of February 20th, 1993, John went to Tony Romine's house to see if he could sell his gun parts, and a few guns he had kept at his sister's house. One he had customized.

After leaving Romine's house, John and Melissa stopped at Rob Cox's house around ten or eleven P.M. and hung out for a while. John asked Rob if he could park his van in the alley in front of his house later that night, because John had not seen his probation officer for two or three months and didn't want to park it out on the open street, thinking the police might be looking for it. John's van had a bed in the back and he usually slept in it at night.

John and Melissa left Rob's and dropped off the guns he had back at his sister Robin's house. He kept the Rossi Interarms .38 revolver, which he carried in the van for protection while on the road. 

He was at Robin's house for about ½ hour. When he left, he put the Rossi on a cabinet in the back of the van. He and Melissa drove out to Clear Creek, listening to the stereo in the van, and then drove back to Lancaster sometime after 12:30 A.M. on the morning of February 21st, 1993.

The only record John had was for a misdemeanor drug abuse charge he caught in Columbus. On the morning of February 21st, John was on probation for that charge and hadn't reported to his probation officer in a couple of months. He was planning to go see them on Monday morning before he left for Florida. Since he hadn't been in any trouble, he figured at most he'd get warned to report more frequently.

The Fateful Night
After arriving back in Lancaster, as John and Melissa were driving around, and had a disagreement. John pulled over on Broad Street and parked close to Paul's Night Club. He got out of the van to cool off. Melissa started the van up and drove away. Police reports indicate Melissa went to the Bottle Cap Bar and drank for about an hour after she left John standing outside Paul's Night Club. It was around 1:30 A.M. on the morning of February 21st, 1993.

Unknown to John, on the other side of Lancaster almost an hour earlier, a Dairy Mart at 420 Lincoln Avenue had been robbed. Police had been tracking the robber for almost an hour. During that chase a Police Officer Brett Markwood had been shot in the head. The shooting had to have occurred only a few minutes after John had got out of the van to cool off from his argument with Melissa.  

John crossed Broad Street going east into a residential area across several side streets, towards St. Rt. 33 to the last street running parallel to St. Rt. 33 and turned right. His cousin Kathy lived on the other side of a factory located at the end of that last street, on a dead end street. Kathy gave a sworn statement that John had told her he would stop by her house and see her before he left for Florida.

A man who lives in a house in the half-circle, between the joined streets, was standing out on his porch that night, watching all the police in the neighborhood, and saw John coming around the half-circle from the direction of St. Rt. 33. The man's house was located closer to Second Street, and he had seen the police before John did, because John was coming around the half-circle from behind the man's house.

This was from the opposite direction, and outside of, where the police were expanding their search area, and from the opposite direction from where the police had been tracking a robber.

It was when John reached past the middle of the half-circle that John also saw the police cruisers driving towards him on Second Street. Upon seeing all the police cruisers, instead of walking left on towards his cousin's home, headed straight back towards Broad Street to the foot bridge that ran over the Hocking River, and went down the embankment to wait for the police to leave the area. He figured it was just some response to a prowler call, and they would drive through the neighborhood and leave. 

A few minutes after John went down the embankment, police appeared at the top of the embankment with guns drawn and pointed at him, screaming for him to get down on his stomach in the water. They damn near drowned John that night once they came down and got their hands on him. John was handcuffed, arrested, taken to the City Jail and placed in a dry holding cell, without water.

An Atomic Absorption test was performed on John's hands to detect any gunpowder residue. The test was negative. Police claim this was because John's hands were in the river, yet laboratory tests show gunpowder residue actually burns into the surface of the skin and is removable only by vigorous scrubbing.

A trace metal test detected trace metal on John's hands, "consistent with handling a gun." (John had just shown his guns to friends a few hours earlier. Sworn statements support this). Gloves, initially reported recovered inside the red ski mask near the Dairy Mart in the first police reports, are not mentioned in later reports. Officer Markwood died 13 hours after he was shot.

No gun had been taken from John when he was arrested. A later report claimed a Rossi Interarms .38 caliber revolver had been recovered the next day from the riverbed where John had been arrested. But no gun is listed in the evidence on file against John in the Lancaster Police records.

Further, Melissa McCoy was arrested on Thursday, March 4th, 1993. The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, on Tuesday, March 9th, 1993, reported it stated in court documents that McCoy had a Rossi Interarm .38 revolver in her possession when she was arrested. John had not taken his gun with him when he got out of the van near Paul's Night Club.

The Frame-Up
While he was in the Fairfield County Jail, the police obtained an order from the Court allowing them to open and copy all of his outgoing and incoming mail. John was placed in isolation. His phone calls were recorded. Everything was turned over to the prosecutor. John was Indicted and charged with the Aggravated Murder of Police Officer Brett Markwood, and the Aggravated Robbery of the Dairy Mart. 

For over three years John was kept in isolation most of the time. The jails he was held in started forcibly medicating John, increasing his medication until on May 16th, 1996, John was being given 400 milligrams of Thorazine, 350 milligrams of Elavil, per day, plus a small "nerve" pill they said was similar to Xanax.

Officer Markwood had been shot around ten minutes before John was arrested on the morning of February 21st, 1993, while pursuing the man who had robbed the Dairy Mart across town, according to police reports and newspaper articles. The chase had been in progress for about an hour before Markwood had been shot. From the beginning of the legal process, it became obvious the police were hand feeding the media, hiding a lot of the details and holding back evidence.

Shortly after John Frazier was arrested, another police officer on the Lancaster City Police Department committed suicide. Investigator's reports show that before he committed suicide, he confessed to his fiancé that he had shot Officer Brett Markwood by mistake during the chase on the morning of February 21st, 1993.

His fiancé ahss told half a dozen people in Lancaster about his confession. It's allover the streets. Everybody knows John is innocent. But she's afraid of the police, and she is convinced it was John who robbed that Dairy Mart, thus leading to the suicide. She blames John. 

Instead of ruining a good police officer's life or reputation over a mistake, the police remained silent and let John take the fall for Brett's death. 

This has distorted the facts of the case against John, relying on the outrage over the death of a young, good officer to prevent anyone digging any deeper into the facts, and discovering that nothing connects John to Officer Markwood's death, but John being where he was that night.

Adam Pillar, one of the police officers who arrested John, and who is now a Captain on the Lancaster Police Department, testified during a Suppression Hearing, to a statement he said John made when he was arrested, supposedly blaming another person for shooting Officer Markwood. Adam Pillar also testified that at the time he heard the statement, he did not know Markwood had been shot.

A report by the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, dated February 22, 2003, at page 11A, states Adam Pillar "was first on the scene and tried to resuscitate Brett." It would be unlikely that Pillar would not know someone he had just performed CPR on had just been shot...yet under oath he denied that knowledge.

The police released a statement to the press in which they claimed a gun, a Rossi Interarms .38 revolver, was found the next day in the river where they arrested John. Yet no gun appears on the Evidence List in John's case, and the same gun they claimed they found on John was later reported in Court documents as seized from Melissa McCoy when she was arrested at the beginning of March.

Stranger yet, a month after John's arrest, all the guns of the Lancaster Police Department were seized and destroyed, and new guns issued to the entire Department.

John was transferred to five different County Jails across Ohio, starting in early April, 1993. At each County Jail John was treated to an intensive campaign of psychological torture by his jailers, such as is reserved for "cop killers."

The Courts
On October 12th, 1993, John's attorneys took John to Court where they had worked out a Plea Agreement that would prevent John from receiving the Death Penalty. John's family had been told by his attorneys they were not there to prove John innocent, or defend him, only to keep him from being sentenced to death.

By then John had been in solitary confinement for over seven months, and was being forcibly administered multiple anti-psychotic drugs. The State had released selected pieces of their "evidence" against John, to the media, creating a media frenzy about his case. No less than five TV stations had applied for permission to broadcast live from the court room.

Melissa McCoy was charged as John's co-defendant, with her parole violation, with possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and Aggravated Robbery. She had also been threatened with being charged as an accomplice in the Aggravated Murder of Officer Markwood.

Melissa McCoy was facing spending the rest of her life in prison, if not the Death Penalty, when she gave the statement in exchange for a deal that ended in her being sentenced on May 5th, 1993 to 8 to 15 years in prison. She did less than 2 years and was released. 

With Melissa ready to testify to anything the prosecutor asked her to say, John felt he had little hope of avoiding being sentenced to death at a trial, so he agreed to enter the guilty plea in exchange for his life. 

On October 12th, 1993, a three-judge panel discussed the Plea Agreement in chambers, before the hearing was held, with two prosecutors and John's three attorneys present. They opinioned the Plea Agreement, which contained a clause making it null and void if John was sentenced to death, was legal.

The Court then had mitigation witnesses sworn in and heard their testimony. The Court then recessed to deliberate John's sentence. Understand that, by Ohio law, the three-judge panel was John's jury, even though he had entered a plea of guilty, as long as the Death Specifications remained undismissed. When they heard evidence and swore in witnesses, Jeopardy attached.

The three-judge panel was supposed to reconvene the hearing that afternoon. They did not. In fact it was not until October 19th, 1993, that the Court reconvened. 

At that time, despite having previously accepted the Plea Agreement as legal, and having heard testimony and witnesses, the three-judge panel unaccepted the Plea Agreement and Guilty Plea, stating they believed it infringed upon their independence, that they believed the Plea Agreement had been coerced and could never have been entered into voluntarily by John, and entered a Plea of Not Guilty upon the Court Docket for John Frazier. This amazing turn of events left everyone in the courtroom stunned.

The Ohio Supreme Court ordered the first three-judge panel dissolved. A second three-judge panel was convened. On December 10th, 1993, the second three-judge panel held the first three-judge panel was correct in rejecting the Plea Agreement and held they would not accept the Plea Agreement either.

When the first three-judge panel had "unaccepted" the guilty plea, after hearing evidence, finding John guilty, and hearing sworn testimony, John's attorney's filed a Motion to Dismiss the entire case, claiming that Jeopardy had attached at the first hearing, and John could not now be placed in Jeopardy twice.

The second three-judge panel opinioned that Jeopardy had not attached. This is directly contrary to Federal Law, which holds the Double Jeopardy Clause protects citizens from the risk of a second trial, after the citizen has already been convicted at a trial that was prohibited from taking place in the first instance.

A Stay of Proceedings was issued in John's case on August 9th, 1995, until a decision was made by the Federal Court. On February 9th, 1996, in a back room deal, an Order was issued by Magistrate Judge Merz, ordering the Ohio Court to Sentence John Frazier, through the "Conditional" grant of John's Federal Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. This Order is unreported and not published in any law book.

When the first three-judge panel, on October 19th, 1993, had entered its Order on the Court docket, it entered a Plea of Not Guilty for John. Nowhere did it enter upon the Court Docket a Judgment of Guilt. The second three-judge panel had likewise rejected the Plea Agreement, and affirmed the first three-judge panels "unacceptance" of the Guilty Plea. 

On May 16th, 1996, John was brought before a single Judge in Lancaster, in Fairfield County, Ohio. By then John was on 400 milligrams of Thorazine, 350 milligrams of Elavil, some unknown "nerve" pill, and had been in solitary confinement for most of the three years since his arrest. John doesn't remember the hearing.

According to the transcripts of that Sentencing Hearing, which we finally received the second week of August, 2005, John was asked to sign a Waiver of his right to a Jury Trial, a Waiver of his right to a Three-Judge Panel, and a "Reaffirmation" of his Guilty Plea. His signature appears on these documents, although he doesn't remember signing them.

One of the standard questions asked persons pleading guilty is whether or not they are on any drugs or medication that could affect their knowing waiver of their rights by entering a guilty plea. That question is suspiciously missing from John's sentencing transcripts.

Nowhere, in any court record or court docket did John Frazier receive a Judgment of a Court finding him Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which he was sentenced. They just sent him to prison.

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