John Spirko Denied New Trial


Death row inmate John Spirko has been denied a new trial for his role
in the 1982 slaying of Elgin Postmaster Betty Jane Mottinger.

Van Wert County Common Pleas Court Judge, Sumner E. Walters, on Monday rejected Spirko's claims that he was denied beneficial evidence gathered by the prosecution.

Spirko, of Toledo, was convicted in 1984 of kidnapping and killing Mrs. Mottinger, 48, who disappeared from the Elgin Post Office on Aug. 9, 1982, shortly after arriving for work. Her body was found Sept. 18, 1982, wrapped in a canvas sheet tied with a rope. Spirko, now 50, and Delaney Gibson, now 48, were charged with murder and abduction. Gibson, who has been in prison on an unrelated charge for about 13 years, was never tried for the Mottinger slaying.

During Spirko's trial, the prosecution built its case on the assertion that Mrs. Mottinger was abducted and murdered by Spirko and Gibson, his close friend. But Spirko's attorneys said photos and documents obtained from the U.S. Postal Service since the trial dispute that. They said the photos showed Gibson wearing a full beard at the time of the killing, meaning he could not have been the "clean-shaven" man identified as Gibson at Spirko's trial. They said motel receipts, flea market receipts, and a motel log placed Gibson in North Carolina the night before Mrs. Mottinger's abduction.

On Monday, Walters ruled that there was no reasonable probability that the outcome of the trial would have been different.

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