The Ohio Parole Board is recommending that Rusty Mootispaw — the man convicted in 1981 of murdering an 85-year-old Washington C.H. woman — be released from prison after serving 39 years.
Fayette County Prosecutor Jess Weade is asking community members to help “keep Mr. Mootispaw behind bars” by visiting the Ohio Parole Board’s website and opposing his release before Mootispaw’s full Ohio Parole Board hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 15.
“As your elected Prosecuting Attorney, I have many duties. None of those do I take more serious than trying to keep our most heinous and violent offenders behind bars,” Weade wrote to the Record-Herald. “In 1981, Rusty Mootispaw was sentenced to a term of fifteen years to life in prison for the brutal murder of eighty-five year old Lillian McCarty. While he has served thirty-nine years in prison, neither the family of Ms. McCarty, nor this office, believes that he has served enough time in prison.”
Weade said ordinarily this hearing would involve himself and members of the victim’s family traveling to Columbus to argue against parole at a full board hearing; however, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the hearing is going to be conducted via video conference.
“Unfortunately, I do not believe that we can convey the same passion via video conference that we can in person, but we will appear via the medium necessary and oppose his parole,” Weade said.
Mootispaw, 57, was indicted on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, and complicity to aggravated burglary after he broke into McCarty’s home and murdered her. Mootispaw, who is being held at Chillicothe Correctional, pleaded guilty to an amended indictment charging a single count of murder, and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
He has appealed for post-conviction relief and to withdraw his guilty plea multiple times. Most recently in 2014, 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.
The trial court has denied each of those motions and the 12th District Court of Appeals has affirmed the decisions.
On Oct. 1, the Ohio Parole Board concluded by majority vote that Mootispaw “is suitable for release at this time and recommends a parole pending full board determination.”
In the minutes from the board’s hearing, the rationale was explained as: “The offender has served over thirty-nine (39) years towards his sentence of fifteen (15) to Life for the offense of Murder. The aggravating factors in this case include: the age of the victim, the brutality of the offense, the criminal history of the offender, victim impact, and community opposition. The case is mitigated by the age of the offender at the time of the offense. The offender has taken risk relevant programming to abate his risk to re-offend and has demonstrated adequate institutional conduct.”
In the past, petitions to oppose Mootispaw’s release have been circulated online and in person.
Weade wrote to the Record-Herald: “However, the Ohio Parole Board has made commenting easier. We ask everyone to go to the following website, www.drc.ohio.gov/parole-board/contact, and oppose the release of this offender. You will need the following information:
-Name: Rusty Mootispaw
-Inmate Number: A164741
-Relationship to Inmate: Concerned Citizen of Fayette County, Ohio.”
Weade added, “There has been a trend recently in granting parole to more individuals, but we are committed to showing the parole board that Rusty Mootispaw is among the worst of the worst and that when he senselessly killed Lillian McCarty, he earned each and every day that he is held behind bars. Thank you for your support.”
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352.