Appeals Court says no to new sentence

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 14, 2006

The Ohio 4th District Court of Appeals has denied a convicted murderer’s most recent request for a new sentence.

In a ruling handed down in late June but not announced until last week, the appeals court rejected Jack Volgares’ June 20, 2005, claim — filed nine years after his conviction — that his sentence was unconstitutional because of several decisions handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States that created a new federal right.

Aaron McHenry, an administrator for the district appeals court, said Volgares apparently filed his latest petition on his own.

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In the petition for a new sentence, Volgares claimed he was “denied due process of law” when the trial court (previously) denied his petition for a new sentence

“without cause or reason”

and that he “was sentenced inan (sic) unconstitutional system in which, a judge, not a

jury, found sentence enhancing facts”

and that

“Imposition of more than

the minimum sentences … violated his

right as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.”

The appeals court ruled that his appeal was not filed in time and in accordance with other requirements. Appeals Judge Roger Kline noted in the ruling

that a petition for post-conviction relief “shall be filed no later than one hundred eighty days after the date on which the trial transcript is filed in the court of appeals in the direct appeal of the judgment of conviction or adjudication unless specific circumstances existed. The court rules those specific circumstances did not apply in Volgares’ case.

Volgares was convicted in 1997 in connection with the death of his stepdaughter, Seleana Gamble. At that time, Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Richard Walton sentenced Volgares to a term of 38 years to life in prison.

Volgares contested the sentence, and in 1999 the appeals court ruled that the consecutive prison terms given to Volgares for some crimes were not explained enough in the original trial to satisfy new sentencing guidelines.

When Volgares was resentenced in August 1999, Walton reimposed his original sentence.

“The court has found no factors to make this less serious,” Walton said at that time. “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’ actions showed no remorse, and the crimes were so unusual and outrageous that no single prison term would adequately reflect the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct.

Volgares, 51, was convicted of murder, obstructing justice, kidnapping, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse. Authorities contended Volgares became upset during an argument and shoved the 7-year-old child.

Volgares and his wife, Mona, did not seek medical attention for Seleana, who was seriously injured in the incident and she died.

Volgares then buried Seleana in the side yard of her Phillip Street home and fled the state with his wife and their three other children. When the child’s body was discovered a nationwide manhunt ensued. The Volgareses were apprehended in Oklahoma.

Jack Volgares is housed at the Ross Correctional Institution in Chillicothe. He will be eligible for parole in 2035.

Mona Volgares, 37, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, kidnapping and other charges. She is serving a 25-year prison sentence at the Ohio Reformatory for Women.