Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tyrone Noling: Ohio: Controversy continues to surround his conviction as he sits on death row more than 25 years after an elderly Atwater couple were found shot to death in their home following what appeared to be a botched robbery. Record-Courier reporter Dave O'Brien reports on Noling's quest for private lab testing - and the existence of several alternate suspects. (Must Read. HL);

STORY: "25 years later, Atwater murder case, conviction still generate controversy,"  by reporter Dave O'Brien, published by the Record-Courier on May 27 2015.

GIST: Controversy continues to surround the conviction of a man sitting on Ohio's death row for the crime. Tyrone L. Noling, now 43, has been on death row since 1996, when he was convicted of aggravated murder in the deaths of Bearnhardt and Cora Hartig, both 81 years old, who were found shot to death in their home in the 6500 block of Moff Road on April 7, 1990.........The state Public Defender's Office and Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati College of Law have been arguing in Noling's defense for several years. Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci said Noling's attorneys have put up "an endless string" of delay tactics and "red herrings" in their client's defense over the years. "We have vowed to continue to fight for the imposition of the death penalty in this case, and we'll do that as long as it takes," he said......... Noling's three alleged accomplices, Joey Dalesandro, Gary St. Clair and Butch Wolcott, were identified as suspects by the Portage County Sheriff's Office early on in the case. Called to testify against Noling, they have all since recanted their statements that Noling shot the Hartigs, or got on the witness stand and denied that he did so. St. Clair, now 46, continues to serve a sentence of 20 years to life in prison for aggravated murder in the Hartig case. He testified for the prosecution at Noling's 1996 trial, and dropped a bombshell: Neither he, nor Noling, were at the Hartigs on the day of their murder. Noling was convicted despite that testimony. Dalesandro was convicted of related charges, served 11 years in prison and was released in 2003. Wolcott, who was 15 at the time of the murders, received immunity for his testimony. Both have told other media outlets they were fed a story by investigators and coerced into repeating it in court. Noling has long sought DNA testing on a cigarette butt found near the Hartig residence. Earlier testing excluded Noling and his co-defendants as sources of DNA on the cigarette butt. In 2013, the Ohio Supreme Court recommended new testing on the cigarette. Portage County Common Pleas Judge John Enlow ordered the cigarette butt re-tested for DNA following a December 2013 court hearing, but it did not return any hits in the state DNA database, according to Vigluicci and court records. Noling's attorneys sought DNA testing on other items, including shell casings and some of the victims' property, in the hopes it might point to different suspects. No testimony was ever given that Noling was in the Hartigs' bedroom, but jewelry boxes from there were seized as evidence by investigators. Part of the state's argument against further scientific testing is that the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation "determined those items were so contaminated, back in 1990 when this crime occurred, when the case was investigated" that there is little chance any DNA from a suspect would remain on them, Vigluicci said. DNA testing was "practically unknown" in 1990, and "the protocols for handling evidence were not the ones we have now," he said. "Sterile gloves were not used, items were placed in the same (evidence) bag. They are not able to be tested for DNA because of that, were contaminated by officers holding them, and writing on them." Noling's attorneys countered that they wished to have a private lab test the items for DNA, because the Ohio BCI did not have all the necessary equipment to do so, according to court records. Vigluicci said former Portage County Common Pleas Judge John Enlow denied Noling's application for further DNA testing last year. Noling's attorneys appealed the ruling to the 11th District Court of Appeals in Warren as well as the Ohio Supreme Court. He said he expects the Supreme Court "will probably end up taking a look at" the appeal, as appeals in death penalty cases go directly to the high court, he said. In addition, the murder weapon has never been recovered. A handgun of the same caliber seized from Noling, one he stole during a previous robbery in Alliance, turned out not to have been used to shoot the Hartigs......... A witness, Nathan Chesley, came forward for a second time several years ago claiming his foster brother, Daniel E. Wilson, admitted to him that he committed the Hartig murders. Wilson, a 20-year-old Rootstown High School graduate, was living in nearby Edinburg at the time, and allegedly threatened to harm Chesley if he told anyone what Wilson allegedly said one night while intoxicated. Chesley reported the statement to Southeast school officials, who called the Portage County Sheriff's Office. However, it is not clear if the tip was ever followed up. Convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 1984 death of an 81-year-old Elyria man during an attempted robbery, Wilson later was convicted of aggravated murder for locking Carol Lutz, 24, alive in her car trunk, then setting it on fire after she drove him home from a bar in Lorain County on May 4, 1991. Wilson was executed by lethal injection in June 2009. Another potential suspect was Bearnhardt Hartig's insurance agent, Lewis Lehman. Hartig allegedly told his doctor he was angry Lehman had defaulted on a $10,000 personal loan the couple gave him, and was planning to confront him. Lehman, who at one point had owned a .25-caliber handgun but claimed he had sold it to an "unknown individual," died in 1998, according to a September 2003 article on Noling's case in Cleveland Scene magazine."

 The entire story can be found at:


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