A man currently serving a prison sentence after being convicted of killing his wife could face a new trial after the Franklin County Coroner raised questions about whether his wife’s death was a homicide, 10TV News reported on Tuesday.
Timothy Howard currently is serving a sentence of 23 years to life for aggravated murder in connection with Delilah Howard’s 2006 death.
The coroner’s office now is questioning whether Delilah Howard’s death was a homicide, 10TV’s Glenn McEntyre reported.
Prosecutors said that Timothy Howard was cheating on his wife and strangled her to get out of their marriage. Howard said that he found his wife Delilah Howard hanging by a nail in the couple’s basement in April 2006.
Prosecution experts argued that the nail could not have supported the woman’s weight and said that she had been strangled.
The Ohio Public Defender’s Office recently took up Howard’s case, the first for the office’s Wrongful Convictions Unit.
Joe Bodenhamer of the Ohio Public Defender’s Office said that his office uncovered information the jury did not see, McEntyre reported.
Some of that information included Delilah Howard’s records from Netcare, where she sought mental health treatment. Six months before Delilah Howard was found dead, counselors wrote that Howard was suicidal and planned to “slit her throat.”
She told them about two previous suicide attempts, including one in which she tried to hang herself and was stopped by her husband, McEntyre reported.
“With that information, we decided to check with the Franklin County Coroner and see if she would review the original autopsy,” said Joe Bodenhamer of the Ohio Public Defender’s Office.
Coroner Jan Gorniak agreed and came to a different conclusion, McEntyre reported.
“I changed the manner of death to ‘undetermined,’” said Gorniak, who also said that upon review, there was not enough information for her to rule Delilah Howard’s death a homicide.
“It appears she committed suicide,” Bodenhamer said.
County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said that the new finding was just a “paperwork change.”
“The jury did hear a suicide theory, a homicide theory and had information regarding past suicidal tendencies and they rejected it,” O’Brien said.
Gorniak said that she was following the evidence and her conscience.
“We want to get it right,” Gorniak said. “So, if there was no crime committed, then someone should not be in jail. We don’t want innocent people in jail, and we don’t want murders running the street, because of our investigation or what we say.”
The Ohio Public Defender’s Office submitted a motion for a new trial. The prosecutor’s office currently is fighting the request, McEntyre reported.
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