A former police chief, Larry Mongold, spoke before the Washington C.H. City Council Wednesday night about his efforts to keep a convicted murderer behind bars.
Mongold came before council to ask for its support in keeping Rusty Mootispaw, 53, currently in the Chillicothe Correctional Institution, in prison. Mootispaw is set to appear before the parole board to ask for parole on Dec. 14.
Mootispaw was convicted in 1981 of murdering 85-year-old Lillian McCarty after breaking into her home. Mootispaw was indicted on charges of aggravated burglary, complicity to aggravated burglary, and aggravated murder.
Mootispaw pleaded guilty to an amended indictment charging a single count of murder, and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Mootispaw has appealed for post-conviction relief and to withdraw his guilty plea multiple times. Most recently, Mootispaw asked the trial court to withdraw his guilty plea, alleging the plea was coerced, arguing that he had newly discovered evidence in the form of an affidavit from former Fayette County Prosecutor James Kiger.
According to Mootispaw’s latest appeal, the affidavit states that Mootispaw pleaded guilty “in lieu of facing a jury and imposition of the death penalty.” Mootispaw argued that the affidavit was newly-discovered evidence establishing the State of Ohio threatening him with the death penalty if he would not plead to the murder charge.
The Court denied Mootispaw’s appeal, replying that Ohio did not have the death penalty at the time of Mootispaw’s conviction. Ohio’s death penalty statute was temporarily repealed in 1978 and was not active again until Oct. 19, 1981, after Mootispaw was convicted.
Mongold, who was a patrolman with the Washington C.H. Police Department at the time of the murder, came to council asking for the members to sign the petition and also put their support behind the efforts to keep Mootispaw in prison. The Fayette County Prosecutor’s Victim Witness Division is circulating a petition that will be presented to the parole board.
“This was the worst crime in the history of Fayette County,” said Mongold. “I attended one parole hearing in February, and the next one is in December before the whole board. Our senior citizens were terrorized because of this man. Fifteen years isn’t near enough for what he’s done. Life is better. If he gets out, this man is going to be a hazard wherever he goes. Somebody is going to pay for his release. We can’t allow this.”
Current Washington C.H. Police Department Chief Brian Hottinger added, “(Mootispaw) is right where he belongs.”
The council unanimously agreed to draft and pass a resolution putting its support behind Mongold’s efforts in keeping Mootispaw in prison.
If residents are interested in signing the petition to keep Mootispaw from obtaining parole, they can contact the Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office or Victim Witness Division.