COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The state has agreed to pay about $1.45 million each to two men declared wrongfully imprisoned for more than 16 years in a woman's slaying, the Court of Claims announced Thursday.
The court said in a statement that it approved a settlement between the state and Robert Gondor and Randy Resh this month. The men were 24 years old when a man who pleaded guilty in the 1988 murder of Connie Nardi in Portage County implicated them as accomplices.
A Common Pleas Court jury found Gondor guilty in 1990 of involuntary manslaughter, kidnapping and obstructing justice, and Resh was convicted of murder and attempted rape.
Gondor and Resh continued to argue their innocence and appealed their convictions. Resh was acquitted in a retrial, and the charges against Gondor were dropped. They were freed in 2007.
A Portage County judge's 2014 ruling in a lawsuit brought by the two men found they qualified as wrongfully imprisoned, and that ruling was affirmed by an appeals court.
Gondor and Resh filed for compensation with the Court of Claims and received partial payments in 2015 of more than $420,000 each for lost earnings. The men, who are now in their early 50s, argued in court filings that they deserved additional compensation for being deprived of building families and careers and suffering emotional distress.
An attorney for both said Thursday that the settlement was "a long time coming."
Attorney Mark Marein said the two men are doing remarkably well, considering that they spent years in prison for a "murder they did not commit."
"But that's in the past, and they are moving forward," Marein said.
A spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office declined to comment on the settlement.
Nardi's body was found on Aug. 15, 1988. The Randolph Township woman, who was 31 years old, was strangled, and her body was thrown into a Geauga County pond.
The man who implicated Resh and Gordon as accomplices pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and has remained in prison since 1989.