Statement Regarding Clemency Application of
John G. Spirko
, Ohio – today issued the following statement regarding the pending clemency application of John G. Spirko:
"John Spirko was convicted, by a jury, of a heinous murder. At times, when he wasn't denying having committed the murder, he appears to have admitted doing so. and federal trial, appellate and supreme courts reviewed his conviction and upheld it. Alibi claims and claims regarding evidentiary weaknesses, including more recently developed theories and interpretations of evidence, were considered by those courts and rejected. In addition, Governor Taft and I granted Mr. Spirko, collectively, seven reprieves to allow for the analysis of DNA related to the case. Once completed, these DNA tests neither exonerated Mr. Spirko nor implicated him or anyone else.
The Ohio Parole Board twice unanimously recommended against clemency for Mr. Spirko. Most recently, in 2005, six members of the Board recommended against clemency and three recommended that Mr. Spirko be allowed time to exhaust newly developed legal theories in the courts. Mr. Spirko was ultimately allowed that opportunity and his claims were rejected. Mr. Spirko's claims that his own lies led to his conviction for an offense that he did not commit are unpersuasive in the face of the judicial scrutiny this case has received. Nonetheless, I have concluded that the lack of physical evidence linking him to the murder, as well as the slim residual doubt about his responsibility for the murder that arises from careful scrutiny of the case record and revelations about the case over the past 20 years, makes the imposition of the death penalty inappropriate in this case.
In making this determination, my staff and I conducted a thorough review of the judicial decisions associated with this matter, the Adult Parole Authority's reports and recommendations, letters received in the Office of the Governor and by the parole board, the arguments and exhibits presented at the Parole Board hearing, the arguments presented by Mr. Spirko's counsel in favor of clemency, recordings of various interviews, relevant photographs, newspaper analyses of this matter and Mr. Spirko's institutional mental health records.
Based on this review, I have decided to commute Mr. Spirko's sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole."
A copy of the warrant of commutation of sentence is included below:
Warrant of Commutation of Sentence
- John Spirko, Jr., #A171-433 was convicted of the crime of Aggravated Murder with a Death Penalty Specification and sentenced by the Common Pleas Court to death.
- Mr. Spirko is currently incarcerated in the custody of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and is scheduled to be executed January 24, 2008.
- I find that Mr. Spirko's claim that his own lies led to his conviction for an offense that he did not commit is unpersuasive in the face of the judicial scrutiny this case has received.
- I also find that the lack of physical evidence linking Mr. Spirko to the above-mentioned murder, combined with the slim residual doubt about his responsibility for the murder arising from a careful scrutiny of the case record and revelations about the case over the past 20 years, makes the imposition of the death penalty in this case inappropriate.
- Accordingly, I direct that the sentence of death of John Spirko be commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
- I signed this Warrant of Commutation on January 9, 2008, in .