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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ex-police officer in Ohio wants new murder trial

WTOP News - October 4, 2008

CANTON, Ohio (AP) - A former police officer sentenced to life in prison for killing his pregnant lover is seeking a new trial, arguing that the jury handed down contradictory verdicts. Attorneys for Bobby Cutts Jr. filed the appeal Friday in the 5th District Court of Appeals. Cutts, 31, was convicted in February of killing Jessie Davis and their unborn daughter at her northeast Ohio home. Prosecutors alleged he killed Davis, 26, and the fetus last summer to avoid making child support payments. Thousands of volunteers helped search for Davis before her body was found dumped in a park. Jurors convicted Cutts of aggravated murder in the death of the fetus. They found him not guilty of aggravated murder in Davis' death but convicted him of a lesser charge of murder.

The filing argues that convicting Cutts of murder in Davis' death and aggravated murder in the fetus' death was inconsistent because both deaths were the result of the same act. "The jury clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage of justice that the conviction must be reversed and a new trial ordered," the appeal said. Cutts' attorneys also argue that the judge presiding over the trial should have allowed jurors to consider an involuntary manslaughter conviction because no witnesses contradicted Cutts' claim that he did not purposely kill Davis. Cutts testified that he accidentally hit Davis in the throat with his elbow during an argument and that he dumped her body in a panic. Among other issues, Cutts' attorneys also say the trial should have been held outside Stark County, where the crime was committed, because intense media coverage made it difficult to find an impartial jury. Members of the jury had helped search for Davis' body, seen media reports about the death and believed Cutts was guilty, the appeal said. Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Mark Caldwell said many of the issues raised in the appeal were also raised during trial. "I'm not surprised by the sort of claims they are making," he said.

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