Man accused of killing Columbus woman refuses to appear in court

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COLUMBUS -- Accused killer Anthony Pardon refused to appear in court Tuesday for a pre-trial hearing, accusing the county's prosecutor of creating a "sideshow" and indicating he didn't want to be "paraded" in front of news cameras, according to his attorneys.

Pardon, a convicted sex offender, is accused of entering a Columbus woman's apartment in late January and kidnapping, robbing, raping and fatally stabbing her.

An autopsy report released last week showed 24-year old Rachael Anderson was strangled and stabbed in the neck and head. Pardon was under the watch of the state Adult Parole Authority at the time of the crime.

Tuesday's proceeding continued without Pardon, who is accused in the January 28 murder of Anderson.

If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

"The courtroom is open to the public and the media... and we can't close that down. We can't stop that," Pardon's defense attorney, Larry Thomas told reporters outside the courtroom. "He doesn't want it to be a situation where is just paraded in front of cameras for no reason."

When pressed about the fact that Pardon's murder charge is a high-profile case that has received a lot of media coverage before today's proceeding, Thomas said: "And that's why he doesn't want to be paraded in front of the cameras, because over there I guess they see a lot," Thomas said referring to the jail where Pardon has been held since February 9th.

At one point during Tuesday's hearing, Judge Stephen McIntosh, his court reporter, prosecutors and Pardon's defense attorneys all left the courtroom to go visit Pardon in his holding cell. Pardon still refused to participate in the hearing following that meeting.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien denied he was creating a "sideshow" or that he had asked the victim's friends or reporters to attend the hearing. He said the judge made it clear the courtroom is open to the public: "That is something the judge said is going to continue throughout these court proceedings. The media and the victim's family, rightfully, will be observing what happens in this vicious and terrible murder."

Pardon, who spent nearly 25 years in an Ohio prison for attempted murder and rape following a 1982 conviction in Columbus, spent the past 9 years in prison in Georgia following a 2008 conviction forgery and failing to register as a sex offender. When he returned to Ohio in June of 2017 as part of a prisoner-exchange program known as the Interstate Compact, Pardon was to serve out his probation in Ohio.

A Georgia judge had ordered that Pardon serve out his probation and "wear an ankle monitor and pay for all expenses," according to court records obtained by 10 Investigates. But according to additional interstate compact documents obtained by 10 Investigates through an open records request, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction indicated that it could not comply with Georgia's request to place an ankle monitor on Pardon because of the "length of time and the expense issue."

ODRC has not explained what it meant by the "expense issue."

10 Investigates has also requested documents related to the details of how Pardon was supervised by the state's Adult Parole Authority, but those records requests were denied.

10 Investigates also obtained an internal email from the deputy director of the Interstate Compact within Ohio. In the email, which is dated February 9, 2018 - the same day Pardon was arrested - Suzanne Brooks wrote to a colleague: "It's been a rough week in the Interstate Compact."

Angela Williams, who described herself as Rachael Anderson's best friend, said that she drove three hours from their hometown of Warren, Ohio to Columbus in hopes of seeing the man accused of killing her best friend.

She did not get that chance when Pardon refused to participate in Tuesday's hearing.

"I was angry, disappointed, I was hurt," Angela Williams told 10 Investigates. "I feel like he was a coward."

Another hearing date was set for July 30. Thomas indicated that he would try to get his client to participate in hearings going forward.