Tuesday, June 13, 2000

Murder retrial begins in '95 shooting case

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Lincoln Heights man got a second chance Monday to prove he is not a killer — this time in front of a jury.

        Michael Larkin's 1995 murder conviction was thrown out by a three-judge panel of the Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals in June of last year. The judges concluded Mr. Larkin did not get a fair trial because his original lawyer told him he would be acquitted if he agreed to have a trial without a jury.

        But the judge instead found Mr. Larkin, 21 at the time, guilty of aggravated murder in the shooting death of Paul Saturday. He sentenced Mr. Larkin to 20 years to life in prison.

        The retrial started on Monday with defense attorney John Burlew telling the jury that Mr. Larkin has an alibi, he was eating at a pizzeria and that prosecutors produced no physical evidence and no weapon.

        “In this case we think the evidence is beyond a resonable doubt that Michael Larkin didn't participate in any way with the murder.”

        Prosecutor Gerald Krumpelbeck told the jury it couldn't ignore the fact that there was an eyewitness to the murder.

        The case began in 1995 when two men broke into Mr. Saturday's Lincoln Heights home and shot him to death.

        The only witness, Mr. Saturday's girlfriend, initially said she could not identify the men because they were wearing ski masks. She said the same thing to a 911 operator, to her sister and to police.

        Days later, however, Shawanna Ogletree said she recognized the men as Mr. Larkin and Rodney Dyson. She identified the suspects while having lunch with police officers at TGI Friday's.

        Mr. Dyson was found not guilty of all charges after a jury trial.

        Ms. Ogletree told the jury on Monday that she lied to police because she was scared for her life and the life of her son, who was 2 at the time of the shooting.

        The trial continues at 10 a.m. today before Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Richard Niehaus.


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