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Judge reinstates jail term

Jack Volgares asked for forgiveness and just punishment during his resentencing this morning in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

Wednesday, August 18, 1999

Jack Volgares asked for forgiveness and just punishment during his resentencing this morning in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

"I know the first was not," said Volgares, convicted of murdering his 7-year-old stepdaughter Seleana Gamble.

"I know I’m responsible for some of my actions but not all," he said. "Bad decisions are a terrible thing but it’s not murder."

Judge Richard Walton disagreed and reinstated the full 38-years-to-life prison term, after repeating his words from the 1997 trial’s end.

"The court has found no factors to make this less serious," Walton said. "The defendant said he didn’t intend to kill Seleana. When you put a force in motion you do not measure nicely the results. The defendant’s position is the same as one who hits a person over the head with a bat and then says he didn’t intend to cause as much harm as he did."

Walton added that Volgares’s actions showed no remorse and no regard for others except himself.

The crimes were so unusual and outrageous that no single prison term will adequately reflect the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct, he said.

The Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals ordered today’s re-sentencing after affirming Volgares’ conviction.

But appeals judges ruled that consecutive prison terms given to Volgares for some crimes were not explained enough in the original trial to satisfy new sentencing guidelines

In court, prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. asked for the original sentence, saying circumstances of Volgares’s "reprehensible actions" had not changed.

Volgares’ appeal attorney, Mark McCown, argued that Volgares does not want to escape punishment but does deserve a sentence that reflect’s his situation.

"He never asked for absolution or exoneration for what he did," McCown said. "He has had to live with the knowledge of what he did.

"It was a mistake and a lot of bad decisions made after that. Jack does not seek redemption and nothing we can say will change the public perception of what happened."

McCown asked that prison terms for charges of murder, obstructing justice, kidnapping, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse be served at the same time, instead of the original back-to-back terms, adding that 15 years to life is adequate because there is no likelihood of crimes recurring after his release.

In a tearful voice, Volgares acknowledged his "bad decisions" and asked forgiveness from Seleana, his family and the court.

"I’ve made my peace with God," he said. "All I can do is live my life one day at a time "

Reading from the judgment entry, Judge Walton expanded upon reasons for the original sentence, calling attention to Volgares’s lack of aid to Seleana and flight from authorities during the 1997 crime.

Volgares was in a position of trust with his stepdaughter, yet he shoved Seleana down the hallway then simply drank beer as she lay in a coma fighting for her life, Walton said.

"He has committed the worst form offense in all counts," he said, adding that consecutive terms are necessary to protect the public and punish the defendant.

Volgares will appeal the re-sentencing portion only to the appeals court again. Another attorney will appointed for that hearing, McCown said.

Other attorneys have filed motions with the Ohio Supreme Court, asking that court to consider Volgares’s 1997 conviction, he said.