We publish letters from death row inmates not to re-litigate their cases, or to take a position on their guilt or innocence, but to give a voice to a group of people who are rarely heard from. The following letter is Wogenstahl's response to our request for his thoughts, sent to us via an email system accessible to prison inmates.
The following is in response to your inquires about death row and myself: This ordeal started on the morning of November 24, 1991. The police knocked on my apartment door investigating a missing persons report. I volunteered to help assistant them in any way I could and gave full permission for them to search my apartment. I had nothing to hide. Unfortunately they did find half a joint and since I was on parole I was incarcerated on parole violation. It was pure stupidity on my part getting high (pot) while still on parole. I was gave 2 years by the parole board for having marijuana in my apartment.
A year later, while still serving the parole violation, I was indicted for murder. My trial was literally a complete joke. My lawyer was working for prosecutor joe deters, I was not gave ANY investigators, and defense experts, or ANY kind of means to prepare a defense. The jury was only informed on what the prosecutors presented and nothing by my attornies. The jury was prohibited from seeing scientific test results that showed it was NOT me who committed the murder. My trial consisted of perjured testimony, false testimony, the prosecution knew testimony was perjured, they with held favorable evidence, and made totally improper comments to the jury. In NO WAY did I receive a fair trial. All of this is clearly substantianted by court records.
Needless to say, I was convicted and sentenced to death for a crime I did NOT do. My first ten years on death row were spent learning the law and filing numerous pro se documents as I did have 24 hours a day to go through my trial transcript and understand how the appeal system works. The lawyers appointed usually had as many as 10 death row clients and were totally overworked with limited finances to do your appeals. The appeals decides who gets executed and who may be lucky enough to get off death row or be granted a new trial. If I hadn't spent all those years learning the law and filing various documents, I would have been executed many years ago.
I don't fear dying at all. Every human will die one day. I only hope that I will one day be allowed a FAIR TRIAL and have the jury see ALL the evidence. Recently I have obtained a crime scene investigator/expert who has reached the conclusion it was NOT me. All this is presently being litigated in the courts. The problem is I wasn't afforded lawyers who actually cared about the truth until after I was gave an execution date. This is very common during death penalty appeals. Of course very few even attempt to understand the appellate procedures or help assist their lawyers. I personally did NOT trust my lawyers with my life. My trial lawyers are the reason I'm on death row.
The psychological aspect of having a death sentence can be complicated. Personally I will NEVER allow them to incarcerate my mind or take my peace of mind. If it's my fate that I am to be murdered by the State of Ohio I go in complete peace with everyone and everything. After 23 years on death row for something I didn't do, my death is my freedom. It would just be a shame if the truth isn't told. The truth has NOT been told. What I really don't understand is that if the state is so conviced I committed the murder, why are they so afraid of allowing me a new trial where the jury can be shown ALL THE EVIDENCE?! My past is not one of being a model citizen whatsoever. I have convictions for robbery and burglary and have served many years in prison. However, nothing even remotely close to what I've been convicted of.
I grew up in a decent family in the subarbs of Cinncinati, Ohio. The Mt. Healthy and Northgate areas. I went in the army when I was 17 and should have stayed there. I don't consider myself a "religious" man but I am a spiritual person. My daily routine is spent within my prison cell. I don't leave it except for my daily shower and to use the kiosk. This is by my own choice as I prefer to be left alone. Inside this cell is MY world and while they have my body locked up, they will NEVER control my mind. The vast majority of the guys around me can't handle being in their cells 23 hours a day. They have to participate in prison socializing. That's their choice as it's mine to stay in my cell and don't want to be bothered.
I occupy my time quite literally within my mind. Whether I'm painting or just looking out the window, my mind is free to go anywhere. I am fortunate enough to have a very special friend and we're in contact on a daily basis. As strange as it sounds, being on death row all these years has actually been benificial for me. I've finally "grown up" and learned to show consideration to those who help me. To be considerate of others' feelings and not just mine. I've also learned to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Small things like watching a mother bird feed her young, enjoy a breath of fresh air containg the smell of flowers, just staring up at the sky and watching the clouds go by. All so very simple things of life I never appreciated my entire life. Truth is, very few on the outside do either.
I know in my heart I'm a good person and that means a lot. Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion but sometimes it's simply not based on all the facts. I think the majority of people belive that if a person is convicted of a crime they must be guilty. Unfortunately that logic is not correct all the time. Of course what politician or government official would acknowledge there is even a slight chance an innocent person could be executed? Not even in the hypothetical context would they admit that!! It's not politically correct nor do proponents of the death penalty ever want to even consider it!!! It's always, "the appeals would prevent an innocent person from ever being executed" mentality!! It does NOT always work like that. The judicial system is far to often for those who can afford it. I only wish the blood thirsty public (of Ohio) would take the time to be better educated on the truth of the entire judicial system and not just what the politicians tell them. So whatever is going to happen, will. If anyone who might read this is interested, please visit jeffrey wogenstahl.com where the legal aspects of my joke of a trial are shown and supported by court documents. Thank You.
Update: After being sent a link to this article, Jeffrey Wogenstahl sent the following response and asked that it be added here.
Mr. Nolan, posting my letter certainly has got a few replies, hasn't it? I understand the majority of the replies are negative towards me and that's fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I wonder if someone close to them got charged with murder, would they expect a trial for that person? I think they would. That's all I ask for, a FAIR TRIAL. One that doesn't contain all the prosecutorial misconduct my previous trial had. One where my lawyers will actually defend me and put on an adequate defense as the law provides. In fact, I would want the lawyers who are presently representing me in my appeals doing my trial. I have the utmost respect for them and literally trust them with my life. I also must do as they feel is in my best interest. Per their advice, my website (jeffrey wogenstahl.com) will temporarily be shut down. Due to the fact I have ongoing appeals and everything hasn't been litigated in the courts, this is necessary. Once everything is filed in the courts, which will be shortly, my website will be operating again. However, if anyone would like to contact me directly, please go to JPay.com to send an email to me. Thank You.
Jeffrey Wogenstahl A269-357
[Image by Jim Cooke]