AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ohio Supreme Court cleared the way for a man, accused of murdering a Mahoning County woman, to be tried for the fifth time.
Four trials against Christopher Anderson have ended in a series of mistrials and hung juries over 14 years. A fifth attempt at prosecution does not violate his constitutional rights, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
Anderson said the due process clauses of the Ohio Constitution and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bar the state from making repeated attempts to convict him when there is no new evidence of guilt.
Justice Sharon L. Kennedy wrote in the Supreme Court’s lead opinion that the double jeopardy clause was not violated because the state is seeking to retry Anderson after a series of mistrials, which are analyzed under a more specific clause of the state and federal constitutions.
“While we are deeply troubled that a final resolution in this case has not been reached, there is no prohibition in the federal or Ohio double jeopardy clauses that bars a defendant’s retrial after several mistrials have been declared,” Justice Kennedy wrote.
The justices also ruled that Anderson’s incarceration has not been equivalent to a prison sentence that he would receive if convicted, so his rights have not been violated.
Anderson is accused of killing Amber Zurcher in 2002. She was found dead, locked insider her Austintown apartment, and an autopsy found she had been strangled. Investigators say Anderson’s DNA was found underneath her fingernails and on her breast, where police found a bite mark.