December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Judge seeks input on whether to continue case against accused killer

Bobbie New, left, listens during a hearing in Judge John Miraldi’s court Monday in the Lorain County Justice Center. STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

Bobbie New, left, listens during a hearing in Judge John Miraldi’s court Monday in the Lorain County Justice Center. STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — Lorain County Common Pleas Judge John Miraldi has agreed to reconsider his decision to allow the murder case against accused killer Bobbie New to proceed.

During a hearing Monday, Miraldi said he wanted to hear from both prosecutors and defense lawyers on whether there should be a balancing test to determine whether New would receive a fair trial because of the delay in bringing charges against him.

New was indicted in 2011 for the slaying of 45-year-old Dorothy Spencer, who was found beaten and shot in her Camden Township trailer on March 14, 1976. She died from her injuries three days later.

Although New was a suspect in the 1970s, the case against him had gone cold until 2010, when his nephew, Perry Strader, contacted Lorain County sheriff’s deputies and reported that he and his parents helped cover up his uncle’s involvement in killing Spencer.

County Common Pleas Judge James Burge ruled in 2012 that New’s right to a fair trial had been compromised by passage of time, although he personally believed New was guilty. The 9th District Court of Appeals later overturned that decision and Burge removed himself from the case.

Miraldi had ruled that based on the appeals court decision, prosecutors had been able to justify the delay in charging New.

Miraldi said during Monday’s hearing that the appeals court decision concluded that both the defense and prosecution were affected by the delay. Several witnesses in the case, including Strader’s parents, have since died.

But attorneys for New asked Miraldi to reconsider, arguing that there needs to be an examination of whether the delay outweighs the negative impact on New’s right to a fair trial.

Assistant County Prosecutor Sherry Glass argued that wasn’t necessary because of the appeals court decision.

“There’s no need for a balancing test because the analysis already took place,” she said.

Miraldi ordered both sides to write up documents detailing their arguments before he makes a final decision.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.