Sunday, June 25, 2000

Lawyers face an 'odd case'

New Jersey man faces multiple courts

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Prosecuting the New Jersey man who allegedly posed as an FBI agent to kidnap, kill and bury a computer consultant who had been staying at a Florence hotel will be challenging, lawyers say.

        One dilemma is that Gregory J. Marcinski, 23, of Brick, N.J., has been indicted in one court system and could face charges in two others.

        Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Linda Tally Smith, of Boone County, said that she doesn't foresee any court — Boone County, federal court or New Jersey authorities — surrendering its case or investigation in the immediate future.

        “At this point, it's everyone's intention to go forward,” she said. “It is ... definitely an odd case, and it's one of the most bizarre cases factually. Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction.”

        According to the charges: In April, Mr. Marcinski allegedly drove from his New Jersey home to Northern Kentucky. He posed as an FBI agent at the Florence hotel where Paul Jeffrey Gale, 28, was staying on a business trip. Mr. Gale had been romantically involved with Mr. Marcinski's former lover.

        Mr. Marcinski allegedly escorted Mr. Gale outside the hotel before handcuffing and frisking him and then placing him in a car and driving off. About two weeks later, Mr. Gale's body was found buried about two miles from Mr. Marcinski's home in New Jersey.

        On Tuesday, Mrs. Smith will present her case before a Boone County grand jury. She wants to see Mr. Marcinski indicted on a charge of “capital kidnapping,” which comes into play when a kidnapping victim dies.

        Other courts also are expected to try him. He could face capital kidnapping charges from federal prosecutors in New Jersey, where an on-going investigation is focused.

        And Mr. Marcinski already has been indicted by a U.S. District Court grand jury in Covington on a charge of impersonating an FBI agent. That case could go to trial in August.

        David Fessler, a Covington lawyer defending Mr. Marcinski against the impersonation charge, said there is enough ground to raise the issue of double jeopardy.

        “Double jeopardy says that you won't be tried on the same issues” more than once, he said.

        “You don't get three bites at the apple, ... thinking one of those three times, "We'll nail him.' Once again, this is one occurrence when three different things happened.”

        Others say arguing double jeopardy, which is supposed to prevent twice-over prosecution on the same offense, is a lost cause.

        Robert Lawson, a University of Kentucky law professor, says double jeopardy cannot be argued if a suspect has broken federal and state laws.

        True, logistics of multiple prosecutions do come into play often, but they are easily managed by prosecutors, Mr. Lawson said. He gave examples.

        • A person is beaten in Ohio and dies in Kentucky. The killer could be charged with assault in the Buckeye State and with murder by prosecutors in the commonwealth.

        • Angel Maturino Resendiz, an admitted serial killer who was given the death penalty last month for a rape-slaying of a Houston-area woman, had allegedly murdered other people in Texas, Illinois and Kentucky. Included is the 1997 beating death of Lexington, Ky., college student Christopher Maier. His girlfriend was raped, stabbed and left for dead — beside railroad tracks. She survived.

        Mr. Lawson said, when state and county lines are crossed in the commission a string of crimes, some prosectors may bow out. Another possibility is that the alleged criminal might plead guilty in one court with the understanding that charges in the other courts will be dismissed.

        With Mr. Resendiz, he said, it is unlikely there will be many more prosecutions.

        “How many times can you give him the death penalty?” he said.


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