September 16, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain murder suspect pleads not guilty

ELYRIA — Albert Fine pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated murder, abuse of a corpse and others accusing him of killing and dismembering Catherine “Kat” Hoholski in June.

Fine, dressed in a jail uniform, stood quietly during the hearing, fingering the chain around his waist and watching Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi intently.

He could get the death penalty if convicted of the aggravated murder charges against him.

After the indictment was read in open court, Dan Wightman, one of Fine’s attorneys, entered the not guilty plea but reserved the right to change the plea at a later date. That could include a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, he said.

Following the hearing, Wightman said he intends to have Fine examined by a forensic mental health expert. That information could be used to prepare a trial defense or as mitigating evidence if Fine is convicted and his attorneys need to argue to judges or a jury to spare his life.

County Prosecutor Dennis Will said later that such examinations are common tactics by defense attorneys to do everything they can to provide a proper legal defense. He said there was nothing in the investigative file that led him to believe that Fine had mental problems.

According to court documents, Fine, 30, confessed to Lorain police that he strangled Hoholski, 26, on June 28. He said he waited for her to return to the Lorain apartment they shared so he could confront her about his suspicions she was cheating on him.

He told police he choked her until she was “sleeping” and bound her wrists with sex toy handcuffs, gagged her with a bandana and tied her ankles with a belt. But Hoholski broke free of the handcuffs, Fine said during the Aug. 11 interview with Lorain police in a Kentucky jail, and the two began struggling.

Fine told police that he struck Hoholski in the face, then strangled her.

According to the Lorain County coroner’s office file on the case, Hoholski’s legs were severed from her body before she was placed in a plastic storage bin. Her decomposed body was discovered Aug. 8 in the bin in a storage area at the Villas of Beau Monde apartment complex after neighbors complained about the smell.

Police reported they found blood stains in the apartment and that the kitchen sink and bathtub had been “extensively cleaned.”

Hoholski’s mother reported her daughter missing July 12. She told police she had last seen Hoholski on June 28 after they returned from visiting Hoholski’s daughter, who was born prematurely in March, at the hospital.

Fine, who is being held at the Lorain County Jail, was arrested Aug. 9 in Lexington, Ky., and fought extradition back to Ohio.

County Common Pleas Judge James Burge will preside over the case.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.