Two convicted murderers in Portage County may be getting a new trial 18 years after the crime was committed. The Ohio Supreme Court Tuesday has ruled that the two men who were convicted in the rape and murder of 31-year-old Connie Nardi did not get fair trials. ideastream's Mark Urycki reports.
The case involved three men: longtime friends Robert Gondor and Randy Resh; and Troy Busta, who they met in a bar in Mantua in 1988. Busta testified that all three took Connie Nardi to a remote location near Streetsboro where she was raped and strangled. Police charged Busta with the crime but he implicated Resh and Gondor and became the main prosecution witness. Busta plead guilty to a lesser crime while Resh and Gondor were convicted and are in prison.
The two convicted men appealed arguing that their defense counsel failed to use or even recognize exculpatory evidence. In a postconviction hearing in 2002, Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Bannon agreed and ordered new trials. But last year, the 11th District Appeals Court looked at the evidence itself and overruled Bannon. The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that the appeals court should not have examined the crime evidence itself but simply ruled on Judge Bannon's reasoning. The justices wrote that the trial court judge in a postconviction hearing is in the best position to weigh the performance of the defense attorneys. The high court ordered new trials.