Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
Wangler again appealing conviction
By Margie Wuebker
Former Mercer County resident Mark Wangler has filed an appeal in U.S. District Court seeking to have his 2011 aggravated murder conviction overturned.
Cincinnati attorney Christopher McDowell filed the appeal and a writ of habeas corpus last week after exhausting the appeal process in Ohio.
"U.S. District Court is the next step that could eventually lead to the U.S. Supreme Court," McDowell said this morning.
Wangler, 57, a former anesthesiologist found guilty in the 2006 death of his wife, Kathy Schlarman Wangler, is serving a life sentence at the Toledo Correctional Institution with a chance for parole in 25 years.
The writ of habeas corpus filed against warden Ed Sheldon alleges the defendant is being improperly held in violation of his constitutional rights. The Ohio Attorney General's Office will represent Sheldon in the matter.
The federal appeal cites the same factors contained in earlier filings with the Third District Court of Appeals in Lima, which denied Wangler's appeal by a 4-3 vote in April, and the Ohio Supreme Court, which ruled against him in June.
Wangler, a Fort Recovery native and resident of Lima, maintains the trial court - Allen County Common Pleas Court - erred in allowing evidence like personal journals to be presented to jurors.
The journals contained the former doctor's most intimate thoughts, including an unhappy marriage and prayers asking God to intercede. He also spoke of thoughts of Satan attacking with car exhaust.
His wife died Sept. 4, 2006, of carbon monoxide poisoning at the couple's home. He claimed the source of the gas was a malfunctioning water heater, but prosecutors maintained soot in the home's ductwork proved the fumes came from a car engine.
The Lima appellate court concluded the journals were illegally seized during execution of a search warrant that focused on computer records. However, justices concluded the contents of the journals were not prejudicial.
Wangler and his attorney also have concerns about a prosecution witness who testified about the presence of soot in the home using tests performed years after Kathleen Wangler's death, as well as methods that had not been widely accepted or used in court proceedings.
A defense witness attempted to testify the biomarkers came from burning candles and not vehicle exhaust, but the trial judge limited the testimony.
McDowell believes it could take months before U.S. District Court judges rule on the matter given the complexity of the case. Other cases with equal complexity have taken years to resolve, he said.
He added that Wangler is not likely to be freed even if the court rules in his favor.
"If we win, the state has a certain number of days to release Mark or refile charges," the attorney said. "Re-indictment and re-trial would be the next step."
McDowell and his client are prepared to take the case to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals if their latest effort fails. The court, located near McDowell's Cincinnati office, oversees a multi-state area.
"The final step would be the U.S. Supreme Court," the attorney added. "And we are prepared for that possibility."