|In 1988, I was charged and ultimately
convicted of Two (2) counts of Rape, Six (6) counts of GSI, & One count
of Misdemeanor Child Endangering. The Court sentenced me to "LIFE" on counts
One & Two, One Year each on the six counts of GSI's, and Six Months
for the Child Endangering. ALL counts were to be served concurrently; in
essence, a total of Life. The Court spelled out in detail that this Life
was a 15 Years to Life - with a Parole Release eligibility after serving
Ten (10) Full Years in prison.
I was indicted by the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury. Both my ex wife, Nancy, and myself were charged equally on these charges. The allegations against us involved our biological daughter, Anna. She was eight years old at the time, and our indictments covered a three year time period - with no specific dates or times.
I maintain, as I have from the beginning, that I am actually and factually innocent of the crimes I was convicted of. I believe that all the facts about my case and appeals makes this evident, but that has not been sufficient for the Ohio State Courts or Parole Board.
After being assigned Timothy J. McGinty as the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, The Cuyahoga County Court's of Common Pleas shuffled this assigned case. Judge Leo M. Spellacy originally assigned this case to Judge Donald C. Nugent, who in turn assigned it to Judge James D. Sweeney, who then recused himself and it was reassigned to Judge Francis Sweeney, who ultimately recused himself from this case as well; and it was then assigned to Judge Stuart A. Friedman, who ended up presiding over this case, as his very first jury trial.
During the summer of 1988, the court held many pre-trial hearings, most of them involving "Discovery" issues - and the fact that APA Timothy J. McGinty had been refusing to provide or forward any "Discovery" at all. Even after Court Orders, proper "Discovery" was never complied with - and to this present day is being restrained.
The Court proceeded forward in November of 1988. My ex wife, Nancy, was first offered a Plea Negotiation. She was offered a Plea of Misdemeanor Child Endangering with all other counts against her nolled. Nancy was afforded a 24 hour time period to decide her fate: a Two Year Probation Term versus a possible Life Sentence. On 11-29-88, Nancy pled guilty to Misdemeanor Child Endangering - with an amended, deleted, serious physical harm spec. Nancy received two years probation and was released from the indictments.
On 12-05-88, the case proceeded forward - leaving me to stand alone for these charges. After a full courtroom battle, Judge Friedman insisted that APA Timothy J. McGinty offer me a Plea negotiation. He then offered a plea that included a mandatory prison term(s). To the present day, it is unclear as to what that plea really consisted of, in terms of actual charges, as well as any specific prison sentence, depending on whose interpretation you get.
Judge Stuart A. Friedman claims it was a One Year Prison Term, while Timothy J. McGinty quotes that he offered a Two Year Prison Term, and in the Cleveland Plain Dealer he quotes himself as offering a "Five" year Prison Term. In any event, I, John E. Peters Jr. maintain to this very day that I was told the Plea offered would be a Prison term of at least 20 Years. I remember 1988, and can still recall this, verbatim.
I was given a 45 minute “Lunch-Break" time period to decide my fate. Being confused & naive, and believing The Criminal Justice System was fair and impartial, I opted against any plea.
My Jury Trial began, and my attorneys were still arguing that they never received proper "Discovery". I sat through 15 days of brutal behavior that has been described by Judge Stuart A. Friedman as "repeated displays of machismo & bullying, of tasteless and offensive comments..., to the point that the underlying criminal trial had to be interrupted for admonitions by the Court...", and "All too often counsel forgot, or ignored, the fact that this is a court of law, not a cockfight" and "Mr. McGinty could (and perhaps should) have been cited for contempt - for his consistently unprofessional demeanor throughout these proceedings.”
On 12-15-88, the Jury found me guilty of all counts and I was sentenced to Life in prison. I appealed the conviction, as I continue to appeal, and have filed numerous motions for a new trial. The quest in filing motions for new trial have netted me an inside look at our Criminal Justice System. From my personal experience, it would be the System of Vengeance.
On 4-17-89, a Motion for New Trial was filed. The basis for this was predicated on all the inconsistencies within the trial testimony. (Denied) On 12-12-90, another Motion for New Trial was filed. This included copies of unsworn statements made by Anna, the alleged victim, that contradicted her earlier testimony. (Denied) On 8-9-91, yet another Motion for New Trial was filed. It had to be refiled after APA McGinty removed it from the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts - and it was never seen again. The Motion was supported by notarized Affidavits, both from Anna herself, and the attorney who had witnessed Anna's recantation(s). On 12-16-91, Judge Stuart A. Friedman granted a Hearing and it was scheduled for 1-2-92. While we were waiting for this date to come, APA McGinty filed what he called a “renewed” Motion in Opposition. This contained a recantation of Anna's prior recantation. (New Trial Overruled).
In 2002, a private investigator was retained
to review prior statements Anna swore under oath to, and to investigate
my claim of actual innocence. After filing a Public Records Check with
the Mayfield Hts. Police Department, they inadvertently sent forward documents
that had been suppressed and were exculpatory in nature. After a Hearing
was held in December 2004, Judge Stuart A. Friedman had determined that
"Leave" to file Motion for New Trial was warranted. After recusing himself
from further review, a visiting judge took over.
As I reflect on the past, I am able to accept responsibility for myself and my own deeds, but I have been punished for much more. After serving day for day what the state of Ohio annexed to my crime and conviction, I was interviewed by the Ohio Adult Parole Authority on 10-15-08. The Parole Board granted my release and I was scheduled to return into society on 3-2-09. I was assigned a Parole Officer, my housing was approved and I had found employment - after serving 20 full years in prison, I was able to find employment in a time of recession.
However, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's
Office objected to my release, and during a Hearing to decide such release,
this Prosecutor's Office used the same tactics which they have used since
1988. APA Mr. T. Alan Regas used absurd dramatics to convince the Parole
Board to rescind my release and extend my prison term another ten (10)
years. The Criminal Justice System was never about guilt or innocence.
Because I chose to stand up and fight for myself and my actual innocence,
the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office continues to act out of vengeance
instead of seeking “truth”.
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