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Ohio man faces 3rd trial in wife's death

Jan. 23, 2013 at 7:46 PM

CLEVELAND, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A former Ohio undertaker found guilty twice in the poisoning death of his wife, will get a third trial, a judge ordered.

Robert Girts, 59, of Parma was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1993 for killing his third wife, Diane, with cyanide. The conviction was overturned by an appellate court, which cited improper and prejudicial statements made by a prosecutor during trial. Convicted again in 1995, he was freed in 2008 after a federal appeals court tossed that conviction, again because of prejudicial statements made by prosecutors.

Girts, free on court-supervised release, fought an attempt by county prosecutors to retry him, but in 2010 a federal court declined to stop a third trial.

On Friday, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Jackson set Girts' new trial for Aug.12, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.

Girts, who married a fourth time, now resides in the Youngstown area. His fourth wife told police in August she was in hiding from Girts because he was stalking her and threatened to kill her, police records indicate.

Testimony in the previous trials accused him of beating his second wife, and raised questions about the death of his first wife, who died at age 25 in 1978 of an unknown illness and was buried without an autopsy. Her body was exhumed before the first trial and the case was closed after a coroner's examination, the newspaper said.

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