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Front Page - Friday, December 20, 2019

Chronology of the John Pudelski case




March 29, 1999: Elly Marie Pudelski is 12 days old when she’s found nonresponsive in her crib.

April 14, 1999: John Pudelski is indicted for Elly’s murder.

Aug. 23, 1999: The trial commences in Cuyohoga County Court in Ohio. Pudelski is found guilty of murder but acquitted of aggravated murder.

Sept. 29, 1999: Pudelski is sentenced to 15 years to life.

Oct. 1, 1999: Pudelski files a motion for a new trial based on a photograph showing his sister Dawn holding Elly and a bruise on Elly’s head. The photograph was discovered after the trial. The court denies the motion, calling the photograph cumulative evidence. Pudelski maintains legal appeals for several years and collateral attacks on the conviction.

October 2010: Chattanooga attorney Richard Pettit becomes involved to coordinate a petition for clemency from then-Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. Pettit involves Doug Berman, clemency expert and professor of law at Ohio State University, the Innocence Project of Ohio and Cyril Wecht, a world-renowned expert in forensic pathology and legal matters.

Jan. 9, 2011: Strickland fails to address Pudelski’s clemency petition when he announces clemency decisions. Pettit maintains communication with the newly elected Gov. John Kasich’s office, as well as the parole board, throughout 2011.

March 2012: Kasich denies the clemency petition without reason or analysis. Pettit maintains communication with Pudelski for the next year and a half, exploring ideas and options.

2015

Pudelski becomes eligible for parole. Pettit involves attorney Barry Wilford, attorney Sarah Schregardus and former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro to prepare the parole hearing. Parole is denied in July.

Pettit works with expert William Cox to prepare a motion for a new trial based on advancements in forensic science and newly discovered photographs, which is filed on Sept. 8, 2015.

The prosecution files a cursory denial, and the motion is therefore pending from the state’s last filed response in December 2015.

Pettit maintains communications with Pudelski, his family and the attorneys throughout 2016. In early 2017, Wilford sets a status conference with the presiding judge, John Setula, for April.

At the status conference, Setula asks the prosecution, “What interest does the State of Ohio have in keeping an innocent man in prison?”

The case is set for hearing in September 2017, but the prosecution asks for more time to obtain a counter expert opinion and to have the computer on which the photographs were found forensically analyzed.

January 2018: After the prosecution discloses that two of its three consulted experts agree with Pudelski’s position, the case is set for a hearing May 16. Both parties stipulate that the briefs and affidavits will say what they say and the judge can rule without a hearing.

January 2019: Wilford contacts the prosecution (Mary McGrath, who was one of the original prosecutors in the 1999 trial) and opens discussion of a plea deal to resolve all litigation. The terms of the plea deal are negotiated for several months. When a final plea deal is reached, a status conference is set with Judge Setula on

Aug. 5, 2019: The judge approves the deal.

Aug. 12, 2019: Pudelski ratifies the plea deal in open court and he’s ordered released for time served.

Aug. 13, 2019: Pudelski is processed and released from prison.